Egypt's Soccer Fans Put Aside Rivalry to Protest Government

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If anything can bring Egyptian soccer rivals together, it's their shared belief that their government is incompetent. Yesterday's riot at the end of a match between Ahly and Zamalek, Cairo's two biggest soccer clubs, resulted in the deaths of 73. Today, the two teams' superfans (called "ultras") convened on Tahrir Square to protest the faulty security, including locking the gates at the end of the game that may have caused attendees to be trampled. "Young men blocked roads in Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square in protest, and a crowd gathered at the city's main rail station hoping to see relatives returning from the game in Port Said, a city at the mouth of the Suez Canal on the Mediterranean coast," Reuters reports.

There's indication on Twitter that the police did not treat to the protest entirely peacefully (NPR's Andy Carvin culls tweets of the use of tear gas), and protesters have elicited a response from the government: The board of the country's soccer federation have been canned by the military-appointed Prime Minister, while Port Said's governor has resigned. Despite the tragedy at the stadium, it's heartening to see a government response that would have been unlikely in Hosni Mubarak's Egypt. Of course that won't stop chants of "Down with military rule" and "People think they were punished for political statements" and calls for Egypt's interior minister to step down.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.