CAIRO: Egyptian football was thrown further into disarray after the African Football Confederation said Monday it will investigate a violent pitch invasion by fans of Cairo club Zamalek in an African Champions League match.
CAF said in a statement that its disciplinary body will meet in Johannesburg in April to consider reports by match officials after home fans rushed the field at Cairo Stadium to attack the referee and visiting players in Saturday’s game against Tunisian team Club Africain.
With the game level at 1-1 and Club Africain leading 5-3 on aggregate, Algerian referee Mohamed Meknoz disallowed a Zamalek goal for offside three minutes into injury time, prompting the violence. The match was abandoned soon after.
"CAF reiterates its call to all national associations, clubs, players and supporters to help enforce and promote the spirit of fair play in all CAF competitions," the statement said.
No exact date for the CAF disciplinary meeting was given. Another Cairo club, Al-Ahly, is due to host a Champions League last 16 game at the same stadium in early May.
Zamalek could face a three-year ban from African club competition.
The Egyptian Football Association also responded to the violence — where stick-wielding fans clashed with police and supporters damaged the goal posts — by postponing the planned return of the country’s domestic football league.
In an emergency meeting Sunday, its second in four days, the EFA apologized to Club Africain and said the Egyptian league would not resume next week, as it had announced on Thursday.
EFA President Samir Zaher was also part of a group of officials that visited the Tunisian embassy in Cairo to make a formal apology to the ambassador, the EFA said.
"The Board of Directors of the Egyptian Football Association and the president, Samir Zaher, apologize to the Tunisian people and Tunisia’s Club Africain after the unfortunate events that took place in the Zamalek match," EFA said on its website.
On Thursday, the EFA had announced there was an agreement for domestic football to resume on April 13 after it was postponed in early February because of the revolution that removed long-standing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power.
"We will hold a series of meetings with officials to discuss the situation and the final solutions for the resumption of the competition," Zaher said Sunday after confirming the league had been postponed for a second time.
Zaher added the EFA was considering holding matches behind closed doors to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s violence.
CAF is almost certain to impose sanctions on Zamalek, but could also punish the EFA by taking games away from Cairo.
Al Ahly is set to host Zambian club Zesco United at the 75,000-capacity Cairo Stadium in its last 16 match on the weekend of May 7-8 and Egypt’s struggling national team is scheduled to play a crucial 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa at the venue in June.
Seven-time African champion Egypt’s poor recent form, which has left it bottom of its qualifying group and in danger of missing the continental championship for the first time in 30 years, led the EFA to call its first emergency meeting last week.