FIFA assured Ghana officials Monday that security "guarantees" were in place for next week's World Cup playoff in Egypt, one day after police and fans clashed in Cairo at the African Champions League final.
"FIFA already confirmed receipt of the Egyptian governmental security guarantees and that the match will take place in Cairo, as scheduled," football's world governing body said in a statement. Plans for the playoff, which Ghana leads 6-1 after the first leg, were unchanged after FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke met sports minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah and Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi in Lome, Togo.
"The security guarantees and security plan by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior will take into account the provisions laid down in the FIFA stadium safety and security regulations," FIFA said. Those include permanent police escorts for players and officials in the troubled Egyptian capital, and "sufficient" security at team hotels and at training sessions for the Nov. 19 playoff, the Ghana FA said, citing a letter from Valcke.
"The security plan has been designed in order to ensure total protection for all the delegations (Ghana, Egypt and FIFA) from arrival up to departure," Valcke wrote, according to the GFA. Trouble flared Sunday outside a different stadium in Cairo before Egypt's Al Ahly beat South Africa's Orlando Pirates in the second leg of the African Champions League final.
No injuries were reported, although police fired tear gas at hundreds of rioting Al Ahly fans ahead of kickoff outside the Arab Contractors Stadium on Sunday. Ghana has said it fears its delegation will be caught up in possible protests by Egyptian fans against the military leadership when Egypt hosts Ghana at the military-owned 30 June Stadium. It's the first international game in the capital since 2011, the year former President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power.
Sunday's second leg of the African club final was the first major match in Cairo — and anywhere in Egypt — where so many fans had been allowed into a stadium since the Port Said disaster in 2012, when 74 people, mostly Ahly fans, died in a football riot at a game.
The Champions League game was viewed partly as a trial run for the World Cup playoff, for which FIFA is responsible. Tensions were raised hours before kickoff in Sunday's final when hundreds of Ahly's highly politicized fans briefly clashed with police outside the stadium and hurled rocks. Police responded with tear gas to calm the crowd as some supporters tried to force their way into the stadium without tickets.
The game inside the stadium appeared to pass off without any problems. In his letter to Ghanaian officials, Valcke described a "comprehensive security approach and delivery" for Egypt vs. Ghana. "Police escorts will permanently cover each and every transfer of these delegations, as well as an ambulance, while the hotels will be totally secured by the deployment of sufficient security guards," the FIFA secretary general said.
At the game, he said "the different security perimeters will filter the ticket-holders, who will be searched individually before accessing the inner perimeter."
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