Egypt's rival football fans unite

Fans of arch-rival teams allay fears of tension during Egypt football match, reviving the spirit of unity witnessed during the revolution.

Egypt football fans 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt football fans 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tension on the streets of Cairo as rival fans arrive for a crucial soccer match.
It was the first meeting between arch-rivals Al Ahly and Zamalek since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Many feared the country's already stretched security forces would be forced to deal with rioting fans.
But Wednesday's match ultimately went off peacefully.
The fixture was initially postponed after clashes in downtown Cairo left nearly 1000 people injured overnight.
But fans from both sides seemed determined to prove that the revolutionary spirit of unity remains alive.
Al-Ahly football club fun, Mohamed Badry said, "The revolution brought us together because a national goal is bigger than sports. Football fanaticism can be something that is inside of a person, but when a higher calling comes along, the national spirit in which you love Egypt more than anything else, then this is the thing that brought al-Ahly and Zamalek together with a single purpose."
Near the stadium, rival fans packed into cafes to watch the match which fittingly finished as a two-two draw.
The result all but clinched the championship for al-Ahly, but disappointed Zamalek fans took it in good spirit.
A Zamalek fan standing with his friend, an al-Ahly fan, said,
"This is the Ahly fan, and he's my friend. I'm telling you, we're all Egyptian. This is the spirit of sports, we're just watching to make ourselves happy and not for any other reason."
While jubilant al-Ahly fans celebrated after the match, the atmosphere remained calm as others headed home quietly.
For the time being there is relief that these fierce rivals managed to retain the spirit of unity that marked the country during the revolution.