Egypt Bans All Hard-core 'Ultra' Soccer Fan Clubs, Citing Terror Links

Highly organized and politicized, fan clubs have clashed with police numerous times.

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An Egyptian soccer fan of Al-Ahly club displays scales to fans celebrating the court verdict, inside the club premises in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.
An Egyptian soccer fan of Al-Ahly club displays scales to fans celebrating the court verdict, inside the club premises in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.Credit: AP

An Egyptian court has banned the country's hard-core soccer fan associations, known locally as "ultras," over accusations that the groups are involved in terrorism.

The ruling Saturday at the Court of Urgent Matters in Cairo outlaws the fan organizations for soccer clubs across the country.

Ultras frequently clash with police inside and outside of stadiums. They are deeply politicized and many participated in the country's 2011 uprising that forced out autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The decision risks sparking an anti-government backlash among the thousands of highly politicized young men nationwide who claim membership.

Relations between the Ultras and security forces have been tense for the past four years after the fans played a key role in the 18 days of street protests that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt where 72 fans were killed at a match in Port Said in February 2012. Since then Egypt has curbed the number of people allowed to attend, and supporters have often tried to storm stadiums they are banned from entering.

Most recently, members of the Ultras were charged, alongside Muslim Brotherhood supporters, with carrying out violence outside a Cairo stadium in March.

Egyptians sit on a sidewalk in front of the Al-Ahly sporting club in Cairo, Egypt

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