Cairo's on-field fan violence probed
CAIRO -- Egyptian soccer was thrown further into disarray after the Confederation of African Football said it will investigate a violent field invasion by fans of Cairo club Zamalek in an African Champions League match.
CAF said Monday in a statement that its disciplinary body will meet in Johannesburg in April to consider reports by match officials after home fans rushed the field at Cairo Stadium to attack the referee and visiting players Saturday during a game against Tunisian team Club Africain.
With the game tied at 1 and Club Africain leading 5-3 on aggregate, Algerian referee Mohamed Meknoz disallowed a Zamalek goal for offside 3 minutes into injury time, prompting the violence. The match was abandoned soon after.
"CAF reiterates its call to all National Associations, clubs, players and supporters to help enforce and promote the spirit of fair play in all CAF competitions," the statement added.
No exact date for the CAF disciplinary meeting was given. Another Cairo club, Al Ahly, is due to host a Champions League game at the same stadium in early May.
Zamalek could face a three-year ban from African club competition.
The Egyptian Football Association also responded to the violence -- where stick-wielding fans clashed with police and supporters damaged the goal posts -- by postponing the planned return of the country's domestic soccer league.
In an emergency meeting Sunday, its second in four days, the EFA apologized to Club Africain and said the Egyptian league would not resume next week, as it had announced Thursday.
EFA president Samir Zaher was also part of a group of officials that visited the Tunisian embassy in Cairo to make a formal apology to the ambassador, the EFA said.
"The Board of Directors of the Egyptian Football Association and the president, Samir Zaher, apologize to the Tunisian people and Tunisia's Club Africain after the unfortunate events that took place in the Zamalek match," EFA said on its website.
On Thursday, the EFA had announced there was an agreement for domestic soccer to resume on April 13 after it was postponed in early February because of the revolution that removed long-standing Egypt president Hosni Mubarak from power.
"We will hold a series of meetings with officials to discuss the situation and the final solutions for the resumption of the competition," Zaher said on Sunday after confirming the league had been postponed for a second time.
Zaher added the EFA was considering holding matches behind closed doors to avoid a repeat of the violence.
CAF is almost certain to impose sanctions on Zamalek, but could also punish the EFA by taking games away from Cairo.
Al Ahly is set to host Zambia's Zesco United at 75,000-seat Cairo Stadium in its last 16 tie on the weekend of May 7 and 8 and Egypt's struggling national team is scheduled to play a crucial 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa at the venue in June.
Seven-time African champion Egypt's poor recent form, which has left it bottom of its qualifying group and in danger of missing the continental championship for the first time in 30 years, led the EFA to call its first emergency meeting last week.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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