Egyptian Football Clubs And A Very Intense Political Rivalry
From the perspective of the regular Football supporter it would probably come as a surprise to realise that with Egyptian Football clubs their passion does not just evolve around the game of Soccer. The Arabs were first introduced to football over a century ago when two clubs took their early roots. These two clubs would very much mirror the identity of it's fans political preferences, from the origins of anti imperialism to the Arab Spring uprisings.
With Egypt being under the administration of the British, two Egyptian Football clubs, based in Cairo were formed. These two clubs, still here to this day, fostered a bitter rivalry founded on politics. So much so that even in places like Dubai many miles away, hearts would be captured of that country's football fans, who likewise could identify with the underlying currents of these two Egyptian Football clubs rivalry, in spite of other famous clubs they could have supported.
Football club Zamalek would represent the military, the foreign administrators and the elite, whereas the opposing Cairo club Al Ahly, had it's ties to the working classes and represented the individual supporter who was very much an anti-imperialist.
Around the world in different countries, the offspring of families take their religion from what their family believe in. Be they Christians, Muslims or Jewish, this is all quite normal. In Cairo however, the focus of attention is on what team the family believes in, or associates itself with. This in turn is governed by the politics of their ancestors with their club affinity already decided for them. This is what they are indoctrinated with and to them this is their passion and this is their religion.
The game of Football has in origins in England, and when it arrived in Egypt, very similarly to the UK, it was originally a game for the mass working class. In England of course, although there were rivalries between local clubs and the likes, all the fans being from pretty much the same social background, politics was the furthest thing from their minds, they just went to games to get behind their local side.
Upon the games inception in Egypt it was very much a game that took it's roots in military camps and as it spread represented the message of anti-imperialism. However in 1905, Mustafa Kamil an activist and lawyer, created a club for the elitists and foreigners as well as people denied entry into social clubs, this he initially called the Students Club, officially changing the name to Al Ahly Sporting Club, two years later. This would be the beginnings of a football landscape in Egypt, that still remains here to this very day.