By Seraj Essul,
Tripoli, 16 October 2013:
Tripoli’s Al-Ahly football team has withdrawn from the Libyan league in protest at gun attacks on . . .[restrict]its coach and a leading player and texted threats against other squad members.
Al-Ahly chairman Sasi Buown told the Libya Herald today that the team had pulled out of the league on a temporary basis. There would be a meeting of players, staff and board members on Friday, at which the next move would be decided.
Meanwhile Buown demanded that the Tripoli Supreme Security Committee and the Criminal Investigation Department get on and find who was responsible for these attacks.
The first happened on Saturday when the team’s Egyptian coach, Hossam Al Badri, was fired on after Al-Ahly had drawn 1-1 against Al Suwaihli in a league match. Badri, who joined the team in May was not hit. Eye witnesses said that the gunfire came from a car with three occupants. Badri, who was shaken by the assault, later returned to Egypt..
The following Monday, star player Mohamed Al-Maghrabi was shot in his right arm and he had surgery to remove the bullet. Buown said that other players had been threatened in text messages.
“What these people are doing, is attacking the whole game of football in Libya” said Buown bitterly, “ They are targeting Al-Ahly after our good results in the league, which opened last month.”
The team chairman said that maybe the attackers had got what they wanted, by having Badri return to Egypt. Buown said that top team officials were going to Cairo to speak to the coach and ask that he return to Libya. He also noted that the chairmen of many of the other 15 clubs in the football league, had contacted him, to express their shock and sorrow at the attacks.
A source at the Libyan Football Federation, who asked not to be named, told this paper: “As far as I know, we have received no official notification of Al-Ahly’s withdrawal from the league. But the situation is very tough right now. We are going to be pushing the interior ministry to provide more security for all the teams”.
He added:“Tripoli Al-Ahly is one of the best teams in the country. It will affect the league if they quit. We will try to convince them not to”.
Libyan football clubs are already in difficulties. Their finances have been hit hard by the banning of all fans from games, because of security concerns. Stewards have been unable to control boisterous and sometimes armed sections of the crowd. Apart from team officials, most games are watched only by TV camera crews, who beam the action back to fans sitting in front of their televisions.