The face of the United States in the Middle East right now isn't President Barack Obama, any elected official or a military leader. It is Bob Bradley.
The 53-year old Bradley, who coached the United States national team to the second round of the 2010 World Cup after they captured their opening round group, took over as national team head coach of Egypt this past September. Now living in a Cairo apartment with his wife, he saw the impact of a riot following a match in Port Said, resulting in 74 dead.
Realizing he was a part of something bigger than himself, Bradley and his coaching staff joined the peace march on the next day.
"We felt it was important to show our respect to the families of the young people who lost their lives; we felt it was important to share that moment with the people there in Sphinx Square," Bradley told Yahoo! Sports.
"When there is a tragedy, it is important that all leaders stand up — whether that is leaders in the government or in the community. When you are the national team coach in Egypt, you're a leader and you must stand up and help. And I've found that people here, when you do anything at all that they see as good for Egypt, they appreciate it."
Bradley was not at the rivalry match in Port Said between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly, instead he watched the first half on television with his coaching staff before heading to scout a league match in Cairo later in the evening. In the first half, he recalls a charged atmosphere but at no point did he think there would be bloodshed after the final whistle.
It wasn't just sports-related violence, Bradley explains. Al-Ahly's supporters club, known as Ultras Ahlawy, were a moving force in the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak from office. The American coach bristles at the "hooligan" idea behind this incident.
There is a much bigger picture here.
"This was not a case of fan violence, this isn't the typical soccer story that people love to report around the world, of soccer fans and hooligans. This had a much deeper value stemming from the revolution and the things surrounding that. A big part of it is that in the revolution and the protests since, the ultras from Ahly, these young people were a driving force in the protest and the revolution. They continue to be, they feel that the military in charge is still part of the old regime. What it is important to say is that in the past year, what often happens is that political turmoil can be sparked by an incident," Bradley said.
"But this underlying current of trying to push the country forward, of trying to continue in the same way where people pushed to out Mubarak, this is going step by step and all these things continue to face different issues. And that's directly what happened in Port Said."
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