Football on hiatus until Port Said investigation ends

No Egyptian Football Association matches will be held until the perpetrators responsible for the violence in Port Said last month are brought to justice following a government investigation, association sources announced Wednesday.

The association is being run by a temporary committee chaired by Executive Director Anwar Saleh, following the resignation of the former board of directors headed by Samir Zaher after the 1 February tragedy. Violence following a match between the Ahly and Masry football clubs at the Port Said stadium left 74 people dead and hundreds injured.

According to news reports, thugs paid by businessmen connected with ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal were involved in stoking the violence. The football league has been suspended since the incident.

The association sources said it would not punish Port Said’s Masry Club — which may be culpable for not properly securing the football stadium — until the attorney general determines whether or not to indict the club, stadium officials or the Egyptian Football Association in the events.

The sources added that during a meeting on Wednesday, the temporary committee discussed a proposal requesting that the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) form a committee to decide how to punish the Masry Club, as the Egyptian Football Association wants to distance itself from the decision, due to its potential political consequences.

Representatives of the Egyptian league’s 15 clubs who attended the meeting delegated the football association to discuss the potential implications of canceling the league matches altogether this year. The attendees also asked the association to discuss with security authorities the possibility of resuming matches.

Judicial sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm Wednesday that ongoing investigations have revealed new evidence and suspects, and therefore the decision to refer the issue to court has been postponed. The sources said the prosecution will not respond to public pressure to issue a speedy decision at the expense of uncovering the truth.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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