This month's premier league final between Cairo's two storied clubs, Al Ahli SC and Al Zamalek SC, once the world's most violent derby, was more than a clash between two soccer giants.
Criticism this week by soccer player Ahmed al-Merghani of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's hard-handed repression of dissent and failure to defeat a mushrooming insurgency in the Sinai peninsula signals mounting discontent in Egypt.
Ultras have for the past eight years been at the core of anti-government protest in Egypt. They have been the drivers of student protests in the last two years against the regime of Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the general-turned-president who in 2013 toppled Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first and only democratically elected president.
Few are able to bridge Egypt's deeply polarizing divide between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood following the 2013 military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al Sisi's iron grip on dissident is likely to be put to the test with the sentencing to death of 11 soccer fans for involvement in a politically loaded football brawl three years ago that left 74 militant supporters of Al Ahli SC dead.
Egypt has moved closer to banning as terrorist organizations militant soccer groups that form the backbone of opposition to autocratic rule with the arrest and pre-trial detention of five alleged members of the Ultras White Knights (UWK), the highly-politicized, street battle-hardened support group of storied Cairo club Al Zamalek SC.
An Egyptian prosecutor has set the stage for the banning of a group of hard-core, militant soccer fans by charging them with accepting money and explosives from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to stage last month's Cairo football riot in which 22 people were killed.
Some critics claim that the reason for President Obama's reluctance to support Egypt's fight against terrorism is that Washington does not want to reward a dictator that stifles freedom at home. However, this is a weak argument that could easily be applied to Jordan.
Militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened supporters of both clubs played a key role in the demonstrations that removed Mr. Mubarak from power and in protests against all subsequent governments, including that of Mr. Al Sisi.
The outcome of the retrial, and its timeframe, remain uncertain. But more importantly, Mr. Fahmy should not be subjected to this process at all.
A stampede at a Cairo stadium earlier this month, much like a politically-loaded soccer brawl in the Suez Canal city of Port Said three years ago, is shining a spotlight on Egypt's unreformed, unabashedly violent, and politically powerful police and security forces amid confusion over what precisely happened and how many fans died.
The death of at least 40 militant, highly politicized, and street battle-hardened Egyptian soccer fans in clashes with security forces raises the stakes for general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's efforts to suppress political dissent.
Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi's efforts to lend legitimacy to parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring have gotten off to a murky start with the appointment of a controversial, reportedly United Arab Emirates-backed human rights NGO as one of five foreign election monitors.
When Sarah Samir stepped this week on to an Egyptian soccer pitch to referee a men's match, she joined a small band of Arab women referees staking out their right to be involved in the sport on par with men.
Mr. Fahmy has been imprisoned for over a year in a case that shocks the conscience of many observers in Egypt and abroad. We look forward to working constructively with the Egyptian and Canadian authorities in the coming days to reach an agreement for his release as soon as possible.
The Mubarak verdict puts a spanner in the works in the onward march of the Arab Spring. The question probably on the lips of some Egyptians and foreigners as well, is whether Sisi's rule represents a facsimile of the despised Mubarak era?