If you needed a reminder for whatever reason, here it is: soccer fans make football fans look like Barney the Dinosaur’s cheerful 5-year-old sycophants. It is true always, and it is holy-smoking-hell true in Egypt today as Algeria and Egypt prepare for a pivotal World Cup qualifier - if the teams even survive until Sunday to play the game.
Yes, there’s one of the Algerians now; we might try to identify him, but there’s the matter of the gaping head wound and significant blood loss going on with his face. Makes it a little hard, y’know. He and his teammates were on their bus coming into Egypt when fans of the Pharaohs pelted the bus with large rocks, shattering the windows and bloodying the players inside. Yes, the hate runs deep on this one. Video is after the break.
And the aftermath:
The current context however melts into the overall hatred between the nations which has been present ever since 1989. Much like this weekend’s fixture, back in ‘89 the teams met for the final qualifier for Italia ‘90. Egypt needed to win the game, played in Cairo. Algeria just needed a draw to qualify.
Egypt won 1-0 thanks to a goal by their legendary striker Hossam Hassan to qualify, but the victory was marred by horrendous scenes of bloody riots and fighting on the terraces, in the streets, in the tunnel, and even, most infamously, at the post-match reception, where the Egyptian team doctor lost an eye after being hit by a broken bottle.
So the anger’s soccer-based, and it’s manifesting itself in soccer once again. They came by it honestly, in other words. It’s just that it’s now reaching rather terrifying levels, and in ways that frankly have nothing to do with - and no place in - sport.
The Algerians were the first to strike, releasing a cussing rap video that included the lines: ”Listen to me Pharaohs, you are already cursed… Israel beat you in six days in 1967… We are not the ones who sold Palestine to the Jews.”
Oh, it gets worse.
Unsurprisingly the Egyptians then released their own counter-video which included similarly hate-filled verses including, “Your words are not important, your words do not affect us. Talk to me in French because your Arabic is so broken… We liberated you when France made you slaves.”
Yeah. All of this over soccer.
The “best” part, if you really want to call it that, is that if Algeria wins by two goals tomorrow, neither team gets an automatic World Cup bid; instead, they’re forced into a one-game playoff for the bid. Better bring a bulletproof vest for that one; these people are not effing around.