Soccer Riots in Egypt – Why My Novel Sometimes Reads Like a Daily Newspaper

My Brother Half Angel thrillers are based on current events, so it is little wonder that, now and again, some particular news item seems to be lifted straight from one of my books.

It has just happened again, with news that rioting at a soccer match in Egypt has led to the death of around 25 fans from the Zamalek club.

Coptic Martyr3Soccer fans from Egypt are not the only ones with a proclivity towards violence. But what marks them out is that they are also involved in the country’s politics.

Soccer club supporters were involved – often quite murderously – in the Arab Spring demonstrations and in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

In my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo I featured a violent soccer club fan as one of the main villains. Here is an excerpt –

But still, it was summer and he was bored. It wasn’t just the intense heat. It was the lack of soccer. Here in Egypt he followed Al Ahly, the country’s top team, and was a member of the Ultras, their fanatical supporters. The Ultras specialized in beating up the supporters of their opponents. Mohamed was just thirteen when he and his friends began traveling down to Cairo to watch Al Ahly games. The best were always those against their hated Cairo rivals Zamalek, when the taunts and provocations of players and supporters alike usually turned the pitch into a war zone. In fact, the Egyptian soccer authorities often imported foreign umpires just for this game, such were the passions on and off the field. Just as enjoyable – and bloody – were the matches between the Egyptian national team and their hated rivals the Algerians.

It was their fighting prowess that led the Muslim Brotherhood to recruit the Ultras when the Arab Spring uprisings began.  Mohamed had been on the front lines in Tahrir Square, braving the tear gas and the bullets, along with the other Ultras, fighting for an end to the hated Mubarak regime. He had little doubt that it was the muscle of the Ultras, not the weak-kneed protests of the democracy advocates, that had brought down the government.

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