CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt, reeling over a soccer row with North African rival Algeria, has backed out of hosting the African Handball Nations Championship in which Algeria will take part, the head of the Egyptian Handball League said.
League Chairman Hadi Fahmy told Egyptian television late on Sunday that Egypt was bowing out of hosting the tournament in February “due to the tension currently present” between Egypt and Algeria.
Tensions between Cairo and Algiers flared following charges of violence after Egypt’s 1-0 playoff defeat by Algeria in Sudan on November 18, which sent Algeria through to next year’s World Cup finals at Egypt’s expense.
Egypt and Algeria have each accused the other of failing to protect their citizens and property from attacks by rival soccer fans. Cairo withdrew its ambassador to Algiers earlier this month and Algeria has demanded an explanation from Cairo.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has called on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to intervene to resolve the diplomatic spat, and Sudan has offered to mediate.
The handball league’s Fahmy told Egypt’s Channel 1 that Egypt had asked to postpone the handball championship for six months, but the African Handball Nations Championship refused. He said Egypt would participate wherever it was held.
Soccer’s governing body FIFA began an investigation after Egyptian fans stoned Algeria’s national team bus on arrival for the Cairo leg of the group stage qualifier on November 14, hurting three players. Scuffles after that match, which Egypt won 2-0 to force the sudden-death playoff, injured 20 Algerians.
Egypt’s Health Ministry said Algerian fans later stoned some buses full of Egyptian fans in Khartoum, causing about 20 injuries. Sudan’s hospitals reported no injuries or deaths after the match.