Egypt league cancelled because of security concerns

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The Egyptian soccer league has been cancelled because of the security situation following the military overthrow of the country’s president Muhammad Mursi this month.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian Football Association made official the end of the 2012/13 campaign with one round of the regular season remaining and a four-team play-off for the title to come.

A statement said the association had sought support from security officials to play on but this had been refused.

It is nearly two weeks since the army removed Mursi in response to mass demonstrations against him. Seven people were reported killed on Tuesday after fighting between Islamist supporters of Mursi and opponents of the deposed president and security forces.

It is the second year in succession that the league has been prematurely brought to an end.

A stadium riot in Port Said that led to 74 deaths in early 2012 brought football in Egypt to a near-standstill for almost 12 months before a new season was belatedly allowed to get underway.

Egypt’s national team, who are on course for a place at next year’s World Cup finals, and its top clubs have continued to play in international competition. But matches have been played in front of small and restricted crowds or behind closed doors.

Security concerns over the weekend meeting between the country’s two most popular teams, Al Ahli and Zamalek, has meant their derby in the African Champions League being moved some 400 kilometers from their base in Cairo.

The two clubs meet at the start of the group phase on Sunday.

Zamalek, who are at home, had originally wanted to host the match in Alexandria, which has become a frequently used alternative for international matches in recent months because of security concerns in Cairo.

But they have now moved it to the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, 436km from the capital, with the agreement of the country’s interior ministry, the Egypt Football Association said on its website.

“The idea behind it is that it is too far for hard-core fans to travel and it is easier for the security to be properly implemented,” a senior Confederation of African Football official told Reuters on Monday.

Last year the first group match between the two was played behind closed doors at the Military Stadium in Cairo and the second at the same venue was allowed a capacity of only 3,000.

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