Opinion

Egypt-Tunisia football match ends as battle

It was trailed as a sporting celebration of freedom over tyranny: clubs from north Africa's two revolutionary nations going head to head on the football pitch, just weeks after mass uprisings toppled dictators in both countries.

It ended with a thousand-strong pitch invasion, unprecedented riots and Army intervention. Egypt's new Prime Minister has offered a formal apology to the Tunisian people after an African champions league tie played in Cairo on Saturday descended into chaos, on live television.

The match — between Egyptian team Zamalek and Tunisian outfit Club Africain — kicked off in a festive atmosphere. But as the game entered stoppage time with Zamalek trailing 5-4 on aggregate and facing elimination from the competition, supporters of the home side began pouring on to the pitch in droves, incensed at having a goal ruled offside.

In scenes later described by the Egyptian Interior Minister as an “act of thuggery”, fans attacked the referee, stripped Tunisian players of their kit and dismantled goalposts. Nine people were injured and an unspecified number were arrested.

The violence came just days after Egypt's football calendar restarted after the anti-government protests which swept the country. The ruling military council has promised to return stability to the Arab world's most populous nation, but in the aftermath of Saturday's drama soccer chiefs believe the domestic league may now be halted indefinitely. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 3:40:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/Egypt-Tunisia-football-match-ends-as-battle/article14670669.ece

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