Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A little information about Ultras fan clubs in Egypt

Egypt's football fan clubs are figuring prominently in stories about the current uprising. For readers wanting to learn more about the Ultras in Egypt and their role in the uprising, here are a few links:

James M. Dorsey, "Soccer Fans Play Key Role in Egyptian Protests" (readers of this blog will not be surprised, as this is a fairly consistent topic in writing about the sport and politics).

The Football Scholars Forum posted a link to that story and to this BBC interview with David Goldblatt (of The Ball is Round): The Secret Policeman's Football.

In 2007, Tom Dunmore posted a series of articles on Pitch Invasion about "Ultras" - a genre of football fan club, characterized by intense organization, often somewhat militaristic structures and overtly political ideologies. The series includes this photo essay from one of the founders of Egypt's first Ultras group - Ultras Ahlawy

An interesting 2009 Al Jazeera article about football and nationalism, The Politics of Sporting Rivalry, written by the author of The Angry Arab News Service.

I will post more articles when I find them.

There are lots of videos of the Ultras Ahlawy on youtube, highlighting their actions at matches. I've included a few turned up by a simple search.

The USSF announced its cancellation of the men's friendly match in Egypt (scheduled for Feb 9) in a very neutral press release


  1. Is it outstanding? Given the way that the former Yugoslavian ultras organized into paramilitary outfits, particularly Red Star Belgrade under Arkan, I'm not necessarily sure this is a good thing.

    Sure they got rid of Milosevic, but the ultras were responsible for quite a bit of horror on their own.

    Ultras and violence seem to go hand-in-hand.

  2. While I can't speak for Murfmensch, I suspect s/he was happy to have the links to more information about Ultras Ahlawy, and Ultras in general - which, as you point out, can be radical, revolutionary, and also racist and fascist.

    As we receive stories about the revolutionary energies of football clubs, it's worth remembering the full history of participation of fan clubs in political movements. As well as the particular role of such clubs in North Africa and the Middle East.

    We should remember, too, that if all soccer fans stayed home, there'd be few people in the streets for either side.

  3. About the case os Egypit (and other countries with dictatorship system), the football stadium is one of few places that we see freedom to people say what them want. I don't know if the supporters of the egypitian clubs did this kind of thing before this popular movement.

    One group of Ultras of the Al-Ahly sad that it's neutral, but gave freedom to the membes participate in the movement. We see Ultras linked with the left-wing, with the right-wing, or apolitical (like the majority of my country, Brazil). Ultras have a large experience abou colective acts, and this maybe be useful in popular movements.

    It's hard to say that the Ultras have the guilty for the violence in football. I think that it's a mirror of the society; the episode with the serbian ultras is a reflect of the situation in Serbia.

    ps:I don't know to speak english very well, so, forgive my bad english.

  4. We have got to stop with this thinking. The terms Left wing and right wing are about as ludicrous as using star signs to delineate us. Also, these terms are used to divide us. We need some progressive thinking on this guys. Left and right wing is a smoke screen.
    I just watched Woody Harrelson's new political documentary Ethos and amongst a whole host of incredible information I discovered that John McCain and Obama voted the same 94% of the time. The film is free to watch by the way at the website www.ethosthemovie.com well worth supporting.


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