Al-Ahly players held a minute’s silence on Tuesday as they returned to training for the first time since 74 spectators were killed three weeks ago in a riot following a match against al-Masry in Port Said.
In a report on their website the club said some players missed training as they were giving police statements about the Feb. 1 league game which also left up to 1,000 people injured after supporters of the Cairo club were set upon at the end of the match.
Training should have resumed last Friday but was postponed while players received counseling.
Coach Manuel Jose, who has amassed the best record in African club football during his time with the Cairo giants, wore a black armband as he took charge.
He said he and the squad were donating some of their salaries to a fund set up for victims.
The future of midfielder Mohammed Barakat also remained uncertain after the 35-year-old abruptly retired from the sport following the riots, saying he was traumatized by the scenes he witnessed.
The club’s football director Sayed Abdul Hafiz said he was still trying to convince Barakat to change his mind.
“Barakat suffered a lot after the horrific disaster in Port Said. I still consider his decision as an emotional one that was taken in the heat of the moment,” added Abdul Hafiz.
“Ahly need Barakat who is not only a good player but also an icon. I will keep in touch with him and we will not give up hope to convince him to come out of retirement.”
Other players, including Mohammed Abu Treika, Emad Meteab and Sherif Ekramy, said they would quit unless the culprits of the violence were brought to justice.
In statements submitted to the police, Jose and his players said Ahly’s footballers were attacked and beaten as they fled the pitch following a mass invasion at the final whistle and then watched, cloistered in their changing room, as spectators died around them.
A resumption of the league is unlikely, Egypt Football Association caretaker chairman Anwar Saleh told the al-Ahram newspaper but al-Ahly will participate in the African Champions League.
“Whether we play any ties at home in the competition will depend on the approval of security officials,” said Ahly’s director of football Sayed Abdul Hafiz.