Egypt’s hopes of hosting Ghana in Cairo in the second-leg of 2014 World Cup qualifying playoff is teetering on the brink of collapse after violence broke out in Cairo on Thursday night following riots by fans of local football giants Zamalek.
Egypt military authorities were reluctant to open the banned Cairo International Stadium for the match with Ghana in November because of the potential of violence and protests erupting during the match in the volatile country.
With football fans now rioting in the streets of Cairo, the military authorities are unlikely to approve the request by the Egyptian FA to open the stadium for the decisive clash.
The Egyptian FA must name the venue and date for the match by the FIFA deadline of Friday and with only 24 hours to go, the military are not keen to open risk the potential of violence erupting.
Members of a hardcore group of fans of Zamalek football club, the Ultras White Knights (UWK), stormed the club’s headquarters in Cairo on Thursday following a protest demanding changes to the club’s leadership.
Minor clashes are ongoing between security forces and the Ultras White Knights, a group of hardcore Zamalek football club fans, near the club’s headquarters in Giza.
An Al Ahram reporter at the scene says that military police are firing shots in the air to disperse the crowds near Zamalek recreational club and are also arresting people.
Scuffles are also still ongoing on a nearby side street as police continue to fire teargas. Birdshot is also being fired.
There are no official reports of casualties yet.
Several Central Security Forces (CSF) trucks are parked outside the club and the CSF are out in force at the scene. Dozens of military police personnel are also present outside one of the club’s gates.
The Ultras had stormed the club’s headquarters earlier following a protest demanding changes to the club’s leadership.
They reportedly torched some buildings inside the club, which is located in the Mit Okba district close to Mohandiseen.
Protesters demanded the resignation of chairman Mamdouh Abbas for his “failures in leading the club,” as well as that of first team coach Helmy Toulan after the club failed to qualify for the CAF Champions League semi-finals.
Egypt FA is desperate to host Ghana in Cairo in the second-leg of 2014 World Cup qualifying playoff even though the venue has been closed down to football matches because of the political and social unrest in the country.
Defender Ahmed Elmohamady says everything must be done to ensure that the 75,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium is opened to ensure they have maximum support when they host Ghana in the decisive clash.
The Black Stars must travel to the north African country in November to face the Pharaohs but the intimidating Cairo International Stadium has been closed down for the fear of the start of fresh protests during a match.
With the league kick-off delayed in Egypt for security reasons and a curfew still in place across the country, the home fixture might be played outside Cairo, the capital, and behind closed doors.
But with football fans now clashing with police the likelihood of the match being played in Cairo is now slim.
The Egypt FA believes a Cairo match in front of the home fans could prove crucial in their bid to make next summer’s finals in Brazil.