Amnesty criticises arrest of football fans before AFCON2019 opener

Egyptian soccer fans watch a match at a cafe in Cairo. File picture: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Cairo – The rights organization Amnesty International has criticized the arrest of several football fans in Egypt before Friday’s opening game of the African Cup of Nations.

In recent weeks more than 30 Egyptian fans have been arrested in connection with terror offences, Amnesty researcher Hussein Baoumi told dpa.

People are often not charged but it is believed to be a way of keeping activists off the streets and away from stadiums as Egypt hosts the continental tournament.

Fans from football’s ultra scene were involved during the demonstrations in the 2010-11 Arab Spring uprisings but after 2012 disturbances, and the deaths of more than 70 in a Port Said stadium, authorities have cracked down on supporters.

Security measures have been increased while there have been recent terror attacks in Cairo.

Egypt stepped in to host the Africa Cup after Cameroon was stripped of the competition for safety and construction reasons. They play Zimbabwe in Friday’s opener in the Cairo International Stadium, which also hosts the July 19 final.

dpa