Last Tuesday, 14 die-hard supporters of Egypt’s El-Ahli football team were arrested after a friendly match between El-Ahli and the Kafr el-Sheikh team. Later, they each received six-month suspended prison sentences on charges of provoking riots, firing flares and clashing with security forces.
Al-Masry Al-Youm hit the streets of Cairo to ask: “Was the stiff punishment imposed on over-enthusiastic football fans justified?”
Ahmed Khalil, banker: “The rioters deserve this punishment because football hooliganism has recently become a widespread phenomenon, often accompanied by violence and riots. Racist chants and insulting banners only serve to promote animosity between fans. This is the first time for the police to take serious action against rioters. It should be a lesson that will hopefully put an end to this kind of behavior.”
Farid Saeed, accountant: “It’s difficult to know who actually caused the riot during the match between Ahli and Kafr Al-Sheikh. Lawyers proved that those arrested had not initiated the violence–they were only scapegoats. The blame should be laid on police, who must step up security measures and body-search fans before they enter the stadium.”
Hesham Ramadan, student: “I think the punishment is too severe. The government must take into account that there were seven minors among those arrested. If they are imprisoned, their futures will be ruined. I’m not denying that what they did was wrong, but they should be shown some mercy.”
Raafat Farhat, fruit seller: “It was the police’s fault in the first place. If fireworks are prohibited, why weren’t these fans prevented from entering the stadium? Security must be tighter during football games–especially the ones attended by hard-core Ahli and Zamalek fans–in order to protect other spectators from possible violence.”
Sayed Gaber, kiosk owner: “I think hooligans should be banned altogether. This was not the first time for riots to break out at matches. Acts of violence have increased recently, damaging property and injuring fans. Hooligans like these only promote hatred and racism.”
Hussein Abdel Waqil, baker: “The police could have imposed lighter punishments on those arrested. They should have been banned from the stadium instead of being arrested as if they were criminals. Hooliganism exists all over the world.”