Return of football fans essential: Egyptian Tycoon Naguib Sawiris

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said Wednesday returning fans to football stadiums is vital, after finalising a deal to purchase the Egyptian Premier League TV rights.

Presentation Advertising Agency, official sponsor of the Egyptian Football Association announced on Tuesday the sale of the new season’s broadcasting rights to Sawiris. Sawiris has already sold the rights on to Egyptian satellite channels TEN and Al-Hayat.

“The absence of football fans is a failure for Egypt and the interior and youth ministries,” the 61-year-old businessman said in a press conference.

“People are bored with politics now, but they never bore of football.”

“Fans must attend matches again, but without new incidents,” he added.

Spectators were banned in February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans died in the Port Said stadium disaster. In February this year the ban was lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at the Cairo Air Defence stadium.

“Matches are boring without fans. We will have a meeting with the interior ministry officials and Ultras groups [of hardcore football fans],” Sawiris explained.

“The problem is that Ultras groups don’t have clear leaders. The interior ministry should come up with an initiative to meet the youth,” the well-known businessman concluded.

Cairo giants Zamalek, the current league and cup champions, and Ahly have repeatedly asked the Egyptian authorities in recent months to allow fans to return. Their requests have been rejected amid fears of fresh catastrophes.

In 2014 Naguib Sawiris was listed as the third wealthiest man in Egypt with a fortune of $2.8 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2013.

He is the 609th richest person in the world, and the 11th in Africa.

source: Ahram online

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