Mr. Abou-Reida was further reported to
have accompanied Mr. Bin Hammam last year on a private jet to Trinidad
where the Qatari national allegedly sought to buy the votes of Caribbean
soccer officials in his failed bid to challenge FIFA president Sepp
Blatter for the soccer body’s presidency.
The ultras also accused Mr. Abou-Reida of protecting Al Masri SC from
severe punishment for an attack on Al Ahly fans in February in a
politically loaded brawl after a match between the two teams in Port
Said that left 74 people dead. Mr. Abou-Reida has not been charged with
any Port Said-related offence.
“Abou-Reida’s departure paves the way for Egyptian soccer to be managed
by real soccer officials rather than by Bin Hammam protégés. His
departure also removes one of the pillars of mismanagement in African
soccer,” said a source familiar with the inner workings of the world’s
major soccer bodies.
The EFA said Mr. Abou-Reida, who last year resigned as EFA vice
president, would only be able to run for the soccer body’s presidency in
four years’ time because he had already served two consecutive terms as
president. Mr. Abou-Reida is expected to challenge the EFA decision,
which leaves businessman Ihab Saleh, former Ismaili player Osama Khalil
and Luxor club chairman Galal Allam as candidates for the soccer body’s
Besides Mr. Abou-Reida’s disqualification, the ultras demanded the
resignation of Al Ahly’s board headed by Hassan Hamdy, another leftover
from ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s era, an end to corruption in
Egyptian soccer, depriving the police and security forces of
responsibility for security in stadiums, continued suspension of
professional league matches until justice has been done for the 74 dead
Al Alhly fans, and unrestricted access to matches for club supporters.
Mr. Hamdy’s endorsement of Mr Abou-Reida fanned the ultras’ distrust of
the Al Ahly chairman whom they accuse of corruption. Mr. Hamdy doubles
as head of the advertising department of Al Ahram, Egypt’s state-owned
and largest newspaper. "We demand the resignation of Hassan Hamdy's
corrupt board, which neglected the rights of the martyrs. Hamdy endorsed
Abou-Reida merely to serve his own interests," the ultras said in a
statement on their Facebook page that has some 577,000 followers.
Authorities earlier this month caved in to the demand for a continued
suspension of matches by delaying the resumption of professional soccer
until mid-October. Professional soccer has been suspended in Egypt since
the Port Said soccer incident when rival fans and unidentified armed
elements attacked the ultras after a match against Al Masri in an
incident that was widely seen as an effort to teach a lesson to the
militants, who played a key role in toppling Mr. Mubarak and in the
opposition to military rule during the 17-month run-up to elections in
July that brought Muslim Brother Mohammed Morsi to power.
The interior ministry, which controls the police and security forces,
who are despised for their role in implementing the Mubarak regime’s
repression and fought running battles with the ultras during the ousted
president’s last four years in office, agreed last month to a lifting of
the ban on soccer provided matches would be played behind closed doors.
The ultras threatened to storm stadiums where matches would be played if
soccer was resumed prior to the meting out of justice to those
responsible for the Port Said incident and if the ban on fan attendance
was not lifted. Seventy-four people, including nine security officials,
are on trial for their alleged involvement in the brawl.
[James M. Dorsey is a
senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at
Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and author of the blog, The
Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer]