(WFI) The president of the Egyptian Footballers’ Association believes fans use of “social
media” played a crucial role in triggering the football
violence at Port Said that claimed the lives of 74 people.
Magdy Abdel Ghany was speaking on a panel about hooliganism and violence in football at the International Sport Security Conference in Doha on Thursday.
Describing the tragedy as a “total disaster for the sport”, his comments coincided with Egypt prosecutors today charging 75 people with murder and negligence in relation to the Port Said rioting. A total of 74 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Al-Masry fans clashed with fans from Cairo’s Al-Ahly after their 3-1 victory in the Feb. 1 match.
“One of the very important facts that caused this anger and rage between fans is the inference of social media,” Ghany told delegates.
“Fans are very young which makes it easier to drive the anger and make them do acts without knowing.”
Ghany said that the instigators of the violence must have planned to do something before arriving at the match.
“Before the game some of the ultras [extremist fans] talked to each other on Facebook chat,” he said.
“They used the lack of policing and they prepared themselves to do something before the game because the fans of Port Said [al-Masry] had no reason to attack the other fans – they won the game.”
Ghany was at a loss to explain why the security officials did little to stop the violence, saying: “I don’t know, maybe they didn’t imagine what was going to happen after the game.
“Maybe they didn’t prepare themselves to looking for this situation, maybe they didn’t know exactly there was some anger between both
[groups of] fans.”
“We’re going to ask the minister of Egypt after the investigation,” he added.
Ghany admitted that Egyptian football desperately needs help on security issues.
Some of that help came in the form of former English FA vice chairman David Dein who was also speaking on the panel.
Describing England’s past troubles with hooliganism, Dein said: “This needs to be looked at because there’s a deep-rooted cause there.
“You have to look at the policing, the infrastructure, the culture – The English FA and Premier League are there to help.”
“We’ve had it, we have had to deal with it and we’ve come out the other side so we are here to help,” he said of the hooliganism that blighted English football in the 1980s.
Also at the Doha conference today, the ICSS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Germany’s Institute for Fan Culture. The institute carries out research that explores the psychology and behaviour of fans around the world in an effort to understand the causes of violence and hooliganism at sporting events and what can be done to proactively reduce such behaviour at sporting events.
Delegates also heard from Helmut Spahn, executive director of the ICSS and head of security for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, who has over 30 years experience in security, specialist training, stadium and crowd management.
“There is an essential need to understand the thinking and motivation of different fan groups,” Spahn said.
“Knowing why violence and misbehaviour occurs is the single most important factor in helping us create successful concepts to prevent them. Fan culture differs by sport and by global region this is why research in field of fan culture is necessary. Of course, knowledge of fan culture and how best to address violence, will only work effectively alongside well-designed infrastructure and first-class safety and safety and security management,” he added.
By INSIDER’s Christian Radnedge
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER