Egyptian soccer fans are emerging as one of the most significant forces in four days of protests that have already forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to dismiss his government and are gunning for his ouster.
Prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, speaking on Al Jazeera, said the uprising’s most effective organizational strength comes, in the words of Paul Woodward of the War in Context blog, from a quarter that has been ignored by most of the media: soccer fans known as ultras. “The ultras — the football fan associations — have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment,” Alaa said on Al Jazeera. “Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country,” he joked.
The ultras are fans of Cairo’s storied Al Ahly (The National) Sports Club. They are a key part of the alliance of youth activists, Islamists, and workers rebelling against the Egyptian government because of its failure to alleviate poverty, eradicate corruption and provide jobs as well as its employment of repression and torture to stymie opposition.
And here’s another thing.
The son of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Nicholas Blair, hopes to trade on the family name as a soccer agent for Middle Eastern players at a time that the policies with which his father is identified appear to be crumbling on the streets of Cairo and other Arab capitals.
Who would have thought that the offspring of our former PM would take a job that involves money grubbing, freeloading and gladhanding. I for one am terribly disappointed.