Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In Egypt, Games Return a Year after Deadly Riots ; Al Ahly, Whose Fans Are Linked to Revolution, Wins Behind Closed Doors

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In Egypt, Games Return a Year after Deadly Riots ; Al Ahly, Whose Fans Are Linked to Revolution, Wins Behind Closed Doors

Article excerpt

Many of those who were killed in Port Said in 2012 were fans of Al Ahly. The club won, 1-0, as the Egyptian league resumed play behind closed doors.

It took only 12 minutes for Al Ahly to score the first goal in the Egyptian soccer league in 366 long and bloody days.

The Mauritanian striker Dominique Da Silva fired an unstoppable shot from 20 yards Saturday, then peeled off his jersey and revealed a black T-shirt. On it was written, "Will never forget you."

The message was not for the fans at 30 June Stadium on the outskirts of Cairo, because there was not a single one there. It was in memory of the 74 people killed during a league match in Port Said last February after fans of Al Masry, a rival club, attacked them.

Almost all of those who died were members of the Ultras Ahlawy, the team's organized fan group, which played an important role in the Egyptian revolution.

The tragedy set in motion a series of bloody events. The league was canceled, and the Ahlawy waged a successful campaign to stop it from being restarted until justice was served, driven by a belief that the deaths were payback by the police because of the fans' revolutionary activities. It was a charge denied by the authorities.

Last week, a Cairo court sentenced 21 Al Masry fans to death for their roles in the violence at Port Said. The fate of 52 others will be decided March 9. The verdict was met with jubilation in Cairo but sparked violent confrontations with the police in Port Said, leading to more than 30 deaths. President Mohamed Morsi called in the army and imposed a curfew on the city.

But the verdict allowed the country's soccer league to return. The violence and uncertainty in the country, however, meant matches were to be played behind closed doors.

The day before the match, a rally was held with the families of the Port Said victims in front of thousands of Ahlawy members. …

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