‘Egyptian clasico’ between Al Ahly, Zamalek to be played behind closed doors

Al-Ahly's Ahmed Fathie (C) fights for the ball with El Zamalek's Mahmoud Kahraba (R) and Basem Mursi during their Egyptian Premier League derby soccer match at Borg El Arab "Army Stadium" near Alexandria, Egypt, February 9, 2016. (Reuters)

The Cairo derby between Al Ahly and Zamalek is set to be played behind closed doors on Thursday, the crowd ban forcing fans like Mohamed el-Kiey to watch the game from a cafe.

Al Ahly and Zamalek have been playing to an empty stadium since 19 Zamalek fans were killed in February 2015 and 72 Al Ahly fans perished three years earlier.

The crown ban has diminished excitement surrounding clashes featuring Egypt’s two biggest clubs. Before the devastating violence, the derby would see streets empty of cars and people.

Mohamed el-Kiey, an ardent Al-Ahli fan, used to ensure he never missed the derby.

He would go to Cairo Stadium early on match morning along with thousands of fans to cheer his club hours before the teams even arrived.

But nowadays, the 32-year-old must make do with watching the game on television with friends in a cafe near his work.

“Nothing can describe the feeling for football fans as they enter the stadium and hear the chants and join in the cheering,” says Kiey, an executive at a multi-national bank in Cairo.

“We are now completely deprived of that,” he says.

“I used to get ready for the game days before it took place, and think carefully about which of the club’s t-shirts I was going to wear,” says Kiey.

“All this has disappeared... it’s been robbed of real passion and fun,” he added.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48