North African clubs handed heavy fines and spectator bans
By Mark Gleeson for Reuters, Saturday May 14th 2011
Egyptian giants Al Ahli and Tunisia's Club Africain have been handed stiff fines and ordered to play games behind closed doors as a result of fan violence last weekend.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) disciplinary committee, meeting in Cairo, ordered Al Ahli to play their opening African Champions League group stage game in an empty stadium after a player was hit by a flare in their last cup tie.
Club Africain, eliminated in the last round, will have to play their next two home matches in continental competition without any spectators as punishment for fans attempting to attack the referee.
Al Ahli's third round second leg tie with Zambian side Zesco United, which the Egyptians won 1-0, last Sunday had to be halted for five minutes with former Zambia international Billy Mwanza taken to hospital after the flare incident. The club were also fined $40,000.
Club Africain's tie with Al Hilal of Sudan in Tunis last Saturday had to be abandoned four minutes from the end when supporters invaded the pitch and targeted the referee. The club were also fined $80,000 but escaped an expected ban.
Kabylie were fined $50,000 and threatened with a one-year ban if throwing of missiles by their supporters in this year's African Confederation Cup continued.
Midfielder Abderahmane Lemssassi of Morocco's Wydad Casablanca was handed a six match ban for spitting at the referee during his team's loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri and coach Fakherdine Rajhi received four match bans for threatening behaviour and abusive language.
Violence at football matches across north Africa has increased significantly since the political unrest across the region, with Tunisian authorities last weekend demanding all Ligue 1 encounters be played behind closed doors.
Games in Algeria's top flight have also been closed to spectators while rioting at leagues in Egypt and Morocco has led to threats the season could be prematurely halted if the violence continues.
Popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia since January have led to the ousting of their long-standing regimes.