Morocco bans 'ultra' fan groups following riot

By Piers EdwardsBBC Africa sport
Mohammed V stadium
Clashes broke out at the Mohammed V stadium

Local authorities in Morocco have banned the activities of 'ultra' fan groups following Saturday's riot in Casablanca that left three people dead and 54 reported to have been injured.

Rival Raja Casablanca fan groups fought among themselves after their side's 2-1 victory over Chabab Rif Al Hoceima.

It is understood fans will still be allowed at the Mohammed V stadium.

However, items such as flares and banners are expected to be prohibited under the new ruling.

Three-time African champions Raja and its fans have come under intense pressure since the trouble.

Two fans were reported dead on Saturday before a third succumbed to his injuries earlier this week.

"To ensure the safety of citizens and preserve public order, it has been decided to ban the activities of all the 'ultras' who act outside of the law," said Casablanca's prefecture in a statement.

Violence has regularly affected Moroccan matches over the years, but Saturday's ugly scenes may engineer a new approach among the game's stakeholders.

Raja's long-standing sponsor, Hyundai Morocco, has also called for change.

This comes after the Moroccan Football Association banned Raja from playing at home for five matches, while also applying a fine of 100,000 dirhams (£7,170).

The FA also ordered the club to pay for damage to the Mohammed V stadium, which be closed from 28 March for repairs and development.

'Waste of precious human life'

Meanwhile, local prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the circumstances behind the riot.

"We are deeply saddened by this situation, a true waste of precious human life," Zineb Oukacha, the Marketing and Communication Director of Hyundai Morocco, wrote in an open letter external-linkto the Raja president.

"Unfortunately, this is the latest of a long series of slip-ups.

"An episode that has cost the life of three of our citizens, I think it is time to stop these uncivil acts that are worthy of the Middle Ages."

Oukacha also outlined his desire for Raja to regain control of its supporters clubs.

On Saturday, fans threw flares and ripped up parts of the stadium during the battles that spread across the stands.

Footage on Moroccan media showed the fans, dressed in the club's green colours, charging at each other.

The country's DGSN security service said in a statement that 31 people were arrested for "acts of vandalism".

On Tuesday, Raja's players held prayers for those who had died in the accident.

In 2013, over 200 people were arrested after fighting broke out in Casablanca between fans of Raja and rivals FAR Rabat.

One of Morocco's most successful sides, Raja Casablanca has won the local championship 11 times while also being crowned African champions in 1987, 1997 and 1999.

The Confederation of African Football, the continent's ruling football body, has yet to comment on the incident.