LONDON: Bob Bradley insisted he is “totally committed” to coaching Egypt’s national team despite the turmoil in the country following the riot at a game last week that left more than 70 dead.
The federation president who hired Bradley last year and his board were dismissed by the prime minister in the aftermath of Wednesday’s rampage.
But Bradley, a former US national team coach, is sure that he will lead Egypt into African Cup of Nations qualifying.
“I’m totally committed,” Bradley told broadcaster Al-Jazeera according to an e-mailed transcript. “When a tragedy like this occurs it’s important that people can come together and can be strong, and in my role as coach of the national team I want to do whatever I can in my responsibilities to help with this process.”
The deadliest football stadium disaster since 1996 unfolded in the Mediterranean city of Port Said following Al-Masry’s league match against Cairo-based Ahly, with fans crushed to death while others were fatally stabbed or suffocated in a stampede.
Protesters accused the police of doing nothing to stop the violence and that set off a new cycle of clashes against Egypt’s military rulers that has killed 13 people in five days.
“This is a much deeper situation than football — really not the case of football fan violence — and I think it is important for people around the world to understand that,” Bradley said. “Obviously there is a lot going on in Egypt at this time, events after the revolution, and the football community is connected with all that and certainly some of the Ultras from different clubs especially Ahly.
“These young people have been responsible for trying to bring about change in the country and these are people that have a passion for Egypt and with it an incredible passion for Egyptian football and their club.”
Ahly players Mohamed Abou Trika, Emad Meteab and Mohamed Barakat — all on the Egypt national team — announced they are retiring after witnessing the violence last week.
And Bradley is unsure if Egypt’s 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier will go ahead in the Central African Republic as planned on Feb. 29.
“Quite clearly given the events, it will take these players some time to try to move forward,” Bradley said. “With it, there are enough questions about when the league will begin again or whether or not games will be played with fans or without.”