Monday Oct 21, 2019. 12:00
Having stated categorically that his side will not play in the CAF Super Cup if it is held in Qatar, flamboyant Zamalek president Mortada Mansour has now said he is willing to withdraw his team from the 2019/20 Egyptian Premier League (EPL) season.
Mansour, who has a reputation for outrageous statements that have little follow-through, claimed he was willing to make the move if Cairo rivals Al Ahly get their way and their EPL clash against El Gouna on Wednesday.
It follows the postponement of the Cairo Derby between Zamalek and Ahly that had been scheduled for this past weekend, but was called off indefinitely over security concerns.
Zamalek were told to play Arab Contractors instead, which they won 2-1, but unhappy Ahly say they will not play any league fixtures until they get to meet Zamalek.
This has angered Mansour, who says if his team played Arab Contractors, Ahly should fulfil their next fixture.
“We will not play the league if the match between Al Ahly and El Gouna is postponed,” he told reporters. “Zamalek did not postpone the game against Arab Contractors, and we respected the state and decided to play and therefore Ahly will play El Gouna.”
It is typical posturing from the Cairo rivals, but also shows the problems that run deep in Egyptian football.
Ahly released a statement at the weekend as to why they would refuse to meet El Gouna.
“Security officials contributed to Egypt hosting the biggest sports events including the 2019 AFCON in the summer as thousands of fans attended,” Ahly’s read.
“They also helped the country host CAF Champions League games for Egyptian clubs with large crowds attending to great success.
“This is why many didn’t accept the EFA’s decision to postpone the Cairo derby for security reasons, especially that we didn’t mind playing the game at Borg El-Arab stadium with no fans attending.
“Al Ahly respects the vision of security officials regarding the Cairo derby, but we will not allow others to take advantage of this rescheduling.
“Because it trumps the principle of equal opportunities between clubs as it did last year among the chaos of continuous rescheduling.
“Therefore, Al Ahly will not play any game in the Premier League before they play the postponed game against Zamalek first.
“And the new date for the game should fit both teams’ schedules as they compete in domestic and African tournaments.”