Former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley made a global stir Thursday, winning praise from all corners after he attended a demonstration and memorial following the unrest that led to 74 deaths and more than a thousand injuries after a game Wednesday in Port Said, Egypt.
Bradley, hired in September as Egypt's national team coach, attended the rally at Sphinx Square in Cairo with his wife, Lindsay, shortly after the Egyptian prime minister disbanded the Egyptian Football Association's board of directors and all games in the country were canceled indefinitely.
Bradley's future as Egyptian boss is uncertain, but he told a television network that his mind wasn't on how the fallout from the violence would affect him. Three national team players have announced their retirements, and there is speculation Bradley, too, will depart.
“I have not thought about this at all today,” Bradley, whose family is based in Manhattan Beach, said in footage posted on Egyptian website Stad El Ahly. “Our thoughts today are with the families of the victims. We wanted to show respect for the people who lost their lives, for the people who are most affected by this tragedy. Of course, we feel strongly about what we are here to do in Egypt.
“It's the dream of all the people here to qualify for the World Cup, and we came here to work with the people and work in the federation to try to accomplish this dream. Today is just a sad day that's hard to understand, and our thoughts today are just with the families of the victims.”
Bradley was set to lead Egypt into its World Cup qualifying campaign in June. Egypt, a longtime African power, hasn't been to the World Cup since 1990.
Al-Masry fans invaded the field after their club upset Al-Ahly, attacking players and fans. Security forces have come under criticism for not doing more to stop the violence, and Egyptians at demonstrations claim that the incident had more to do with the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. Al-Ahly supporters played key roles in the revolution.
Bradley was attending another game, which was halted at halftime when word of the violence filtered in, and went home to watch the footage from Port Said on television.
“It's a tragedy to see this take place at a football match, and to see so many young people lose their lives is a terrible thing and something that is very sad for everyone living in Egypt,” Bradley said. “All Egyptian people feel this today.”
He said it was important that he attended the demonstration.
“We've been here and had the chance to get to know so many people. When a tragedy like this occurs, it's important to show respect,” he said. “This is something that's not something we want, not something we want to see. We all feel sad. This moment, to share a moment with the people and let everyone know we are there together feeling terrible about the events [in Port Said].”
Bradley's Pharaohs staff includes La Verne's Zak Abdel, a former Egyptian national team goalkeeper who has coached with the Galaxy, Chivas USA and Cal State Fullerton and was Bradley's goalkeeper coach with the U.S. national team.
“Of course, we feel strongly about what we're here to do in Egypt,” Bradley said, “It's the dream of all the people here to qualify for the World Cup. We came here to work with the people and work with the federation to try to accomplish this dream.”