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Cairo – Egypt's sports authorities have refused to delay the start of the country's main football competition, local media reported Thursday, a day after fans attacked the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) headquarters in protest at the resumption of domestic play.
“We are not going to pull back from starting the Premier League on schedule,” state-run newspaper Al-Ahram quoted Sports Minister al-Ameri Farouq as saying.
The competition, suspended since February following deadly rioting, is scheduled to start on September 17.
“Everyone benefits from the return of the football activities. There are more than 5 million people (in Egypt) earning their living from football,” he added.
Around 2,000 hardcore “ultra” supporters of al-Ahly, one of Egypt's top clubs, Wednesday broke into the EFA offices in Cairo using petrol bombs, local media reported.
Trophies won by the Egyptian national team were stolen, Al-Ahram said.
The attackers were protesting the resumption of domestic football before those responsible for the deaths of 74 al-Ahly fans in a stadium riot were punished, according to the report.
Seventy-three people, including sports officials and policemen, are being on trial on charges of premeditated murder or negligence over the deadly rioting that occurred in the coastal city of Port Said in February.
Opposition activists have repeatedly accused the military, who ruled Egypt for 16 months following the ouster of Hosny Mubarak more than a year ago, of orchestrating the violence, allegedly to prolong its stay in power. – Sapa-dpa