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Soccer Politics: Egyptian Police-Owned Team Distances Itself from Hated Police Force

Egyptian top tier, police-owned soccer club Ittihad El-Shorta is seeking to distance itself from Egypt’s hated police force, identified by many as a pillar of the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. In the latest reverberations in Egyptian soccer of the mass protests that paralyzed Egypt earlier this month and forced an end to Mubarak’s 30 years in office, Ittihad El-Shorta manager Talaat Youssef noted that several of his players had joined the protests. The Egyptian police and security forces are widely blamed for the deaths of 365 people in the protests and for two days of violent attacks on the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces. “The team is independent from the Ministry of Interior, we’re a separate sports entity that has nothing to do with politics. So please there is no need to be hostile against our club,” Egyptian soccer website quoted Youssef as saying. Youssef’s remarks follow several statements this week by Ibrahim Hassan, a controversial board member of Cairo club Al Zamalek SC, insisting that his support and that of his brother, another Zamalek executive, for Mubarak during the revolt did not mean that they opposed the protesters demand for an end to corruption and greater freedom. “I know that several Zamalek and Ahli fans are asking me and Hossam to step down, but I want to clarify that we weren’t against the revolution. We didn’t like vandalizing properties and we were totally against humiliating the president because he is a symbol of the nation,” quoted Hassan as saying. Fans of Al Zamalek and its arch rival Al Ahly SC played an important role in the protests that toppled Mubarak. The statements by Yousef and Hassan come as the Egyptian state prosecutor is investigating allegations of corruption in Egyptian soccer. Officials and analysts say senior Egyptian Football Association officials and others are likely to be soon indicted. Neither Youssef of Hassan, who had close ties to the Mubarak regime, are believed to be among those under investigation.

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