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Football fans to return to stadiums for Egypt league games

Before rows of empty stands, Al-Ahly footballers celebrate after scoring in a January 8 Egyptian Premier League match against Zamalek at Cairo Stadium © AFP / KHALED DESOUKI

CAIRO, Egypt, Feb 12Limited numbers of football fans are to be allowed into stadiums for league matches in Egypt for the first time since deadly riots in 2012, the country’s football federation said Monday.

Mostafa Tantawi, a spokesman for the federation, told AFP that up to 300 fans would from Monday be allowed to attend championship matches, while no restriction on numbers would apply to cup games.

Clubs would be held responsible for their fans’ behaviour, he said, following a partial lifting of the five-year ban decided at a meeting Sunday of the football federation.

Egyptian authorities imposed the ban on fans at local matches after a February 2012 stadium riot in Port Said that left 74 people dead at a game between local club Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly.

Three years after that tragedy, at least 20 fans of Cairo club Zamalek were killed in clashes with security forces outside a stadium in the capital in February 2015.

An Egyptian court last month sentenced to jail 28 Al Ahly fans for wearing T-shirts paying tribute to the “martyrs” of the Port Said riot, accusing them of “incitement”.

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