FIFA assures Ghana officials over Cairo security
FIFA assured Ghana officials Monday that security “guarantees” are in place for next week’s World Cup playoff in Egypt. The assurance comes a day after police and fans clashed in Cairo at the African Champions League final.
Plans for the playoff were unchanged after FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke met Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah and Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi in Togo. Ghana leads 6-1 entering the second leg on Nov. 19.
“The security guarantees and security plan by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior will take into account the provisions laid down in the FIFA stadium safety and security regulations,” soccer’s governing body said in a statement.
The Ghana federation cited a letter from Valcke saying there will be police escorts for players and officials in Cairo and “sufficient” security at team hotels and practice sites.
Trouble flared Sunday outside a different stadium in Cairo before Egypt’s Al Ahly beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the African Champions League final. No injuries were reported, although police fired tear gas at hundreds of rioting Al Ahly fans before the game.
Ghana has said it fears its delegation will be caught up in possible protests by Egyptian fans against the military leadership when Egypt hosts Ghana at the military-owned 30 June Stadium. It’s the first international game in the capital since 2011, the year former President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power.
Sunday’s second leg of the African club final was the first major match in Cairo — and anywhere in Egypt — where so many fans had been allowed into a stadium since the Port Said disaster in 2012 when 74 people, mostly Ahly fans, died in a soccer riot at a game.
The Champions League game was viewed partly as a trial run for the World Cup playoff, for which FIFA is responsible.
Tensions were raised hours before kickoff in Sunday’s final when hundreds of Ahly’s highly politicized fans briefly clashed with police outside the stadium and hurled rocks. Police responded with tear gas to calm the crowd as some supporters tried to force their way into the stadium without tickets. The game inside the stadium appeared to go off without problems.
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