The history of Cairo’s football fans is one of the most poignant narratives of the 25 January 2011 Egyptian uprising. The Ultras Al-Ahly and the Ultras White Knights fans, belonging to the two main teams, Al-Ahly F.C. and Zamalek F.C respectively, became embroiled in the street protests that brought down the Mubarak regime. In the violent turmoil since, the Ultras have been locked in a bitter conflict with the Egyptian security state. Tracing these social movements to explore their role in the uprising and the political dimension of soccer in Egypt, Ronnie Close provides a vivid, intimate sense of the Ultras’ unique subculture.
Cairo’s Ultras: Resistance and Revolution in Egypt’s Football Culture explores how football communities offer ways of belonging and instill meaning in everyday life. Close asks us to rethink the labels ‘fans’ or ‘hooligans’ and what such terms might really mean. He argues that the role of the body is essential to understanding the cultural practices of the Cairo Ultras, and that the physicality of the stadium rituals and acerbic chants were key expressions that resonated with many Egyptians. Along the way, the book skewers media clichés and retraces revolutionary politics and social networks to consider the capacity of sport to emancipate through performances on the football terraces.
Ronnie Close in an interview with sports journalist Ken Early in Dublin, on his book Cairo’s Ultras: Resistance and Revolution in Egypt’s Football Culture (AUC Press, 2019). https://vimeo.com/385490688 (January 2020)