Under Hosni Mubarak’s rule, football stadiums were one of only a few places where Egyptians were relatively free to express their own opinion. During matches, the Ultras Ahlawy, radical fans of Egypt’s most famous football club Al Ahly Cairo, never made a secret of their hatred against the regime. The Ahlawy and state security had frequently clashed prior to the Egyptian revolution in early 2011, so the Ultras were the only movement in Egypt who had any organized combat experience with the regime.
It was almost natural that the Ahlawy would be on the front lines of last year’s uprising against Mubarak’s rule. Many call the Ultras the spearhead of the revolution after they protected protesters on Tahrir Square against police and armed thugs who attacked on camels.
When in early February 2012 in a stadium in Port Said clashes between fans from Al Ahly and its armed rivals from Al Masry left 74 people dead, most of them Ahly supporters, many blamed remnants of the old regime for seeking revenge for the Ultras’ role in the revolution by staging or at least tolerating the riots.
For three weeks, I went to Egypt and followed the Ultras seeking justice for what happened in Port Said. I was the first journalist who gained almost unlimited access to the Ultras.
You can read my full report < here >.