Egypt’s Football Premier League, which was suspended last year following the Port Said tragedy, will start Saturday amid skepticism if the football authorities are working diligently to prevent another similar incident from happening, Al-Ahram Online reported.
The tragedy occurred on Feb. 1, 2012 when thousands of al-Masry team’s fans poured into the pitch following the end of an ill-tempered match against al-Ahly. The confrontation, which killed over 70 of al-Ahly’s fans, saw 21 al-Masry supporters sentenced to death.
However, the new season will start without fans and people will only watch the matches on TV.
“The haphazard attempts to resume the league, with or without fans, will lead to serious problems and maybe more victims,” said sports critic Alaa Sadek, a staunch opponent of league resumption.
Egypt’s clubs had to offload many of their stars to stay afloat especially television revenues - their ultimate source of income - are not coming in.
Cairo giant’s al-Ahly, which rarely faces financial difficulties, loaned out talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika, to United Arab Emirates team Bani Yas for $1.2 million.
They had also accepted an offer from English Championship (second division) side Hull City to sign influential duo Ahmed Fathi and Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’ on loan until the end of the season.
“We will be affected by the absence of the three players, in addition to the injuries of Hossam Ghaly, Sayed Moawad and Walid Soliman. However, we have the utmost confidence in the rest of the players,” al-Ahly football director, Sayed Abdel-Hafiz, said on the club’s official website.
Al-Ahly’s traditional rival, Zamalek, managed to sign long-term target Ahmed Eid, but had to offload Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi after failing to fulfill their financial obligations towards him.