Football fan groups banded together to issue a joint statement exhorting police forces to cease their presence at stadiums during matches.
Issued late Sunday night, the statement demanded that police forces be replaced with security guards from private companies in order to put an end to the escalating violence between the ultras fan groups and the police. The Ultras Ahlawy, Ultras White Knights, Ultras Devils, Ultras Green Magic, Ultras Yellow Dragon, Ultras Suez Commandos and Ultras Wills signed the statement.
Violence between ultras members and police forces has been on the rise recently.
The most notorious instance of the ultras-police confrontation occurred in February 2012, when 72 members of Ultras Ahlawy were killed after a match in Port Said. Members of the Masry team fan club were accused of killing the ultras members, while police forces securing the game were accused of deliberately refusing to protect the fans.
In January 2013, Port Said Criminal Court sentenced 21 defendants to death for their roles in the incident, while meting out life sentences to five others and shorter prison sentences to the remaining 19 individuals found guilty in the case. However, 28 of the defendants were acquitted, including police officers implicated in the tragedy.
The Cairo Court of Appeals ordered a retrial in early February.
In the latest standoff on February 20, clashes between the Ultras Ahlawy and police left 24 injured. The violence broke out during a match between Al-Ahly and the Tunisian Al-Safaqisi team in the CAF Super Cup Championship, which Al-Ahly won for the sixth time.
“We reject your presence in Egyptian stadiums, yes just as you understand it. We reject the presence of police forces inside Egyptian stadiums. Enough with neglecting the main reason of all stadium problems,” the statement read.
“Police forces are incapable of securing the games. Look at the games that were held inside sports halls without the presence of police forces, they all passed peacefully without any problems more than those games that were heavily protected by police forces,” it continued.
The statement also said that the ultras groups would protest on Saturday in front of their respective clubs to voice their demands.