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Dec 30, 2012

Egyptian league set to kick off Feb. 2

CAIRO -- Egypt's Premier League football will resume matches from Feb. 2 after a yearlong suspension following deadly stadium riots, the Egyptian Football Association said Sunday.

A match in the city of Port Said between Egypt's most popular team, Al-Ahly, and local team Al-Masry turned deadly when home fans attacked visiting fans. The Feb. 1, 2011 riot killed 74.

No spectators will be allowed into stadiums during the first season.

Initially the government had decided to restart the league on Feb. 1. But Azmy Megahed, spokesman for the federation said, it was pushed back one day to allow families of the victims to hold memorials.

The deaths of many Al-Ahly supporters, mostly young men in their teens and 20s, continues to stoke fury, particularly because no one has yet been convicted in court.

Attempts to restart the league since last year failed because Al-Ahly fans demanded that perpetrators first be held to account. A verdict is due Jan. 26 in the trial of 73 security officials and fans, some facing murder charges.

The last time it was due to resume was during the same week President Mohammed Morsi set a referendum on the country's new constitution, so the Football Association decided to delay it.

The association said Sunday that the ministries in charge of security and sports felt restarting the tournament in February is "positive for the economy, the sport" and would signify stability.

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