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Tuesday 28 February 2017

Egypt outlaws "Ultras" soccer fans

Stephen Kalin and Omar Fahmy

The Ultras, as well as other soccer fans, were among the thousands that protested against Hosni Mubarak's autocratic rule Credit: Ultras Nahdawi
The Ultras, as well as other soccer fans, were among the thousands that protested against Hosni Mubarak's autocratic rule Credit: Ultras Nahdawi

An Egyptian court has outlawed the soccer fan club known as "Ultras", a group that played a key role in the political demonstrations that ousted former Egyptian Hosni Mubarak.

The reason for the ruling, which can be appealed, was not immediately clear.

But the decision risks sparking an anti-government backlash among the thousands of highly politicised young men nationwide who claim membership.

Relations between the Ultras and security forces have been tense for the past four years after the fans played a key role in the 18 days of street protests that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt where 72 fans were killed at a match in Port Said in February 2012.

Since then Egypt has curbed the number of people allowed to attend, and supporters have often tried to storm stadiums they are banned from entering.

Most recently, members of the Ultras were charged, alongside Muslim Brotherhood supporters, with carrying out violence outside a Cairo stadium in March.

Reuters

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