Hardcore soccer fans light flares during the third anniversary of the 2012 Port Said riot.
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Being a football fan in Egypt has been a dangerous, sometimes even deadly, passion for years.The Al-Ahly club's "Ultras" – hardcore supporters of the Cairo-based team and the country's largest fan association – have appealed to authorities to negotiate an end to years of tension and violence while disavowing members involved in a recent postgame rampage that had temporarily shattered the prospects for reconciliation.Preliminary contacts between the two sides are underway as a prelude to talks to hammer out an agreement allowing fans back into games for the first time since a ban on attendance following a 2012 riot in the coastal city of Port Said that left more than 70 fans, mostly Ultras, dead in one of the world's worst football-related incidents.The ban on fans attending games was later relaxed for continental games. In 2015, 22 fans were killed in a stampede prompted by heavy tear gas fired by police outside a military-owned stadium in a Cairo suburb. Additionally, hundreds of fans have been arrested over the years as the Ultras took part in violent protests, including one in 2013 that torched the headquarters of the Egyptian football federation and vandalized a police social club, and others marking the anniversary of the 2012 tragedy.Many fans accuse the police of failing to prevent the Port Said riot or intervene to end it when it first started.
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