CAIRO: World football governing body FIFA warned Egypt on Friday to step up security for a key World Cup qualifier with Algeria after stonethrowing fans injured three away players being bussed to the team hotel.
FIFA said it would announce what action if any it was taking against the Egyptian football federation later in the day after considering a detailed report on Thursday s incident from its representatives on the ground in Cairo.
One FIFA representative, Walter Gagg, confirmed to AFP that three Algerian players had sustained injuries which may yet rule them out of Saturday s key game, which will decide which of the bitter North African rivals advances to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.
We saw that three players had been injured – Khaled Lemmouchia on the head, Rafik Halliche above the eye and Rafik Saifi on the arm, Gagg said.
These weren t superficial injuries, he stressed.
With the stitches needed, we will have to see if these players can play. The team doctor has still to make a decision on that.
Gagg said Algeria s goalkeeping coach had suffered concussion, and described the bus itself as in a very bad way with broken windows and traces of blood on the floor.
The players were afraid. They were terrified, he said.
The FIFA delegate said the governing body held urgent consultations after the incident and even the two presidents, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Algeria s Abdelaziz Bouteflika were involved, talking to each other by telephone.
Gagg s report of events contrasted with that of the Egyptian police, who insisted none of the Algerian players had been injured by the stonethrowing, and even more so with those of the Egyptian press which charged that the whole incident was a fabrication.
A FIFA spokesman said: We have reiterated to the Egyptian association our request that all security measures be taken so that the match can go ahead.
The Algerian press carried front-page pictures of the injured players. The French-language El Watan newspaper showed a photograph of midfielder Lemmouchia s bloodied head with the headline After the ambush against the Greens.
The paper said it thought it unlikely that Saturday s game would be cancelled because of the injuries to the players but suggested that the Egyptian federation might be fined.
Egyptian newspapers insisted Algerian players had faked the whole incident, further inflaming the atmosphere despite appeals from the Egyptian authorities in the build-up to the game for responsible coverage.