Saturday, November 21, 2009



November 20, 2009
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN)
A series of clashes between Egyptian and Algerian football fans has led to a diplomatic row between the two north African countries, with Egypt recalling its ambassador to Algiers.

Husam Zaki, a spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, said Cairo has asked its envoy to return from Algeria "for consultations" after a week of tensions over qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup.

Egypt's withdrawal of its ambassador followed Algeria's Thursday refusal to allow an Egyptian plane to land.

The aircraft was dispatched to evacuate Egyptian citizens from Algiers, where press reports said Egyptians have been harassed by Algerian fans.

In addition, Algeria socked Egyptian telecommunications giant Orascom with a nearly $600 million bill for back taxes this week, an assessment Orascom said was based on "unfounded and unacceptable" claims about its accounting.

The disputes began November 12, when Egyptian fans stoned the Algerian team's bus upon its arrival in Cairo and injured several players.

FIFA, the sport's world governing body, announced Thursday that it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Egyptian Football Association as a result of the attacks.

Scuffles between Egyptian and Algerian fans in Cairo and in Algiers followed the Egyptian team's 2-0 victory in Saturday's match, with Egyptian-run businesses reportedly attacked in Algiers.

Both governments arranged for additional flights to get fans to Sudan's capital, Khartoum, for a Wednesday night playoff for a play in the World Cup, which Algeria won 1-0.

The win means Algeria are in the finals for the first time in 24 years, and it prompted more reports of anti-Egyptian violence in Algiers.

Egypt are also unhappy with the arrangements in Sudan, claiming their players and fans were attacked and hinting it could lead them into temporary international exile.
"We will stop playing for two years in protest of what happened during the attack," read a statement on their official federation Web site.
Egypt and Algeria aren't the only countries now involved in a spat over the World Cup.

Ireland and France are at loggerheads over Thierry Henry's handball, which set up the decisive goal for Les Blues in their World Cup playoff.
Irish football officials lodged an official complaint with FIFA at the urging of Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

"We don't mind being beaten fair and square," Ahern told CNN. "But they weren't fairly beaten last night."

FIFA rejected Irish appeals for a replay on Friday, but Henry put out a statement saying it would be the "fairest solution."Mubarak adds fuel to fire as football riots spread

By Jack Shenker in Cairo
The Observer,
22 November 2009

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ratcheted up the diplomatic tension with Algeria yesterday as football-related violence continued to spread across both countries. In a statement to parliament, he told cheering MPs that "Egypt will not be lax with those who harm the dignity of its sons".

It is the president's first public intervention in a row that has seen thousands of protesters flood the streets of Cairo and Algiers and a wave of attacks against Egyptian targets in Algeria and vice versa. The trouble started when Egypt won a World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Cairo, setting up a play-off between the two sides in Sudan to decide which country would progress to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Last week Egypt recalled its envoy from Algeria after expressing its "outrage" at the treatment faced by Egyptian fans in Khartoum, where Algeria won 1-0. Despite appeals for calm by the general secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, rioting has spread to both capitals. In Algiers the offices of Egypt's national airline were destroyed, while in Cairo security forces battled with protesters trying to reach the Algerian embassy, which was reportedly hit by firebombs. Parts of the city are under police lockdown.

Mubarak's speech did nothing to calm the frenzy, as he swore to protect the rights of Egyptians. "The welfare of our citizens abroad is the responsibility of the country," he said.

However, there were signs last night that a public backlash against the government's handling of the football storm was gaining strength. "Hosni Mubarak's thugs have beaten and killed more Egyptians than any hooligans," said Hossam el-Hamalawy, a journalist and opposition activist.