As a preemptive measure against fears of a deterioration of the security situation at football matches in Tunisia, the Tunisian Ministry of Interior has announced that league matches in Tunisia will be played behind closed doors indefinitely starting the weekend of February 11-12.
The announcement comes a week after more than 74 people died in Port Said, Egypt when fans of Al-Masry Football Club charged the pitch following their 3-1 victory over Al-Ahli Football Club.
Sami Akrimi the editor in chief of the Le Presse sports page, said that the ban on fans has nothing to do with the events in Port Said, Egypt. “If a plane crashed tomorrow in Peru, would you cancel all TunisAir flights?” said Akrimi.
Akrimi blames the ban on fans on the Federation’s unwillingness to work with members of supporters clubs to provide adequate security at football matches. “Politicians during the electoral campaign ignored sports, as though sports do not exist in Tunisia, and for this reason for the third time since the revolution matches will be played without fans,” added Akrimi.
While Tunisia’s big clubs of Esperance Sportive de Tunis, Club African and Etoile Sportive du Sahel have financial resources from exporting players abroad, other clubs in Tunisia do not sell their players to European clubs. For the other clubs in the Tunisian league the ban on fans is a “financial disaster” because they are highly dependent on ticket sales according to Akrimi.
Moez, a member of the organizing committee of fans of Esperance Sportive de Tunis blamed the ban on violence in Tunisian stadiums and the large number of minors who come to matches drunk, cause problems that get them arrested but then they are released early as minors. “Nothing is original here in Tunisia with our supporters groups,” Moez said. “There are a large number of violent football supporters all over Europe,” he added.
“Yesterday, we met with the Minister of Sport, Tarek Dhiab and we suggested that the only fans allowed to enter stadiums be those who have season tickets.” According to Moez, Dhiab expressed his dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Interior’s decision and expressed his desire to coordinate a solution to the problem of fan violence with the Interior Ministry.