Ultras in Egypt: State, Revolution, and the Power of Public Space


This project explores the role of organized soccer/football fans in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and its aftermath. These groups, known as ultras, were decentralized in structure and organized in part through then-new social media technologies. While the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak had systematically dismantled competing political organizations during his reign, the soccer/football fan groups were not subject to the same scrutiny as overtly political organizations.

Thus, Ultras gained experience in organizing massive events in support of the various teams throughout Egypt—experience that would prove crucial during later clashes between ultra members and security forces. These groups thus illustrate how political mobilization can manifest in unexpected ways when overt political activism is suppressed by an autocratic government.

After the political salience of ultra groups became clear to the post-Mubarak government, a gradual crackdown on their activity then began. This crackdown, which may have included state-sanctioned violence against ultras, would eventually lead to the prohibition of such groups in Egypt. Nevertheless, football fandom remains an important political force in Egypt, where, according to the World Values Survey, interest in the sport is higher than in almost any other country in the world.


Connor T. Jerzak. Ultras in Egypt: State, Revolution, and the Power of Public Space. Interface, 5(2): 240-262, 2013.
  title={Ultras in Egypt: State, Revolution, and the Power of Public Space},
  author={Jerzak, Connor T.},

Related Work

Connor T. Jerzak. Football fandom in Egypt. Routledge Handbook of Sport in the Middle East, pages 196-207, Oxfordshire, UK, 2022. Routledge. Danyel Reiche and Paul Brannagan (eds.)
  title={Football fandom in Egypt},
  author={Jerzak, Connor T.},
  booktitle={Routledge Handbook of Sport in the Middle East},
  address={Oxfordshire, UK}

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