February 26 – Egypt’s top-flight club Zamalek face strong sanctions after failing to show up for their hotly anticipated Cairo derby against Al Ahly, causing the game to be abandoned.
Officials waited for an hour after the supposed kick-off time before the Lithuanian referee in charge decided to call off Monday’s fixture, with Al Ahly awarded a 2-0 win.
Zamalek say they intended to play but had been delayed in traffic because of bad weather but the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) said there were “no obstacles” holding up the team bus.
The row was a direct result of ugly scenes at the recent sold-out Egyptian Super Cup in Abu Dhabi which Zamalek won 4-3 on penalties. The shootout was followed by a mass brawl involving both players and management.
A number of players on both sides were banned for their part in the fighting as was Zamalek chairman, Mortada Mansour, who was suspended from all football-related activity for three games as well as being fined.
Mansour initially warned his players would not turn up for Monday’s domestic clash at Cairo International Stadium, which the two teams share, because of “fear and worry” over their welfare. He appeared to change his mind and opted to send a youth side instead but that didn’t happen either.
Al Ahly and Zamalek’s rivalry stretches back to 1917, usually played to packed stadiums and fervently followed not only in Egypt but across the Arabic-speaking world. It is regarded as one of the top derbies in world football.
The result of Monday’s game meant that Al Ahly remained top of table with 48 points from 16 games, maintaining their 100% win record. Zamalek sit third 17 points behind.
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