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Algeria football violence leaves hundreds injured

Image of Algerian forces arresting an Algerian man [Echoroukonline]
A man being arrested by Algerian forces [Echoroukonline]

Football violence in Algeria has left over 300 people injured and hundreds more arrested.

During a press briefing held yesterday in Algerian capital Algiers, Director of Public Security at Algeria's General Directorate of National Security – Issa Nayli – explained that, during the ongoing 2018-2019 football season, 80 violent incidents were reported. Of these, 28 occurred in Algeria's First League and eight in the Second League, in addition to a number of other occurrences during local and international matches.

These incidents left 316 people injured, among them 215 police officers. A total of 726 football supporters – including 82 minors – were arrested in connection with the violence, 198 of whom were subsequently sent to trial. Scores of vehicles were also damaged, the majority of which belonged to the Algeria's national security apparatus.

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Nayli ventured several reasons behind the country's continued problem of football violence, describing it as a "cancer festering in Algerian football". He revealed that tension between teams, as well as disagreements over regulatory aspects of the game, are the main causes of this violence.

During the briefing – dubbed "Sports are ethics… Enough is enough" – Nayli stressed that fighting football violence is the responsibility of all key figures in the sports industry, not just that of the country's national security. He explained: "All parties have to seriously engage in eradicating the phenomenon of violence and urge football fans to improve their behaviour and to be civilised."

Yet Nayli also vowed that the national security division would continue to clamp down on such violence, lamenting that the withdrawal of police from football stadiums is impossible until the trend subsides. One aid Nayli proposed was the creation of a national identity card, which would identify those with a history of football violence as being prohibited from entering sports facilities. He also added that a special policy for ticket sales, designed to eliminate indiscriminate sale and forgery online, could also curb the issue.

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