In October 2016, the Egyptian Premier League witnessed a unique refereeing scandal, which was covered by many local and international media, in the 68th minute of the Ismaily and Al-Nasr mining match, which ended in a positive draw with a goal for the same, Ismaily goalkeeper Mohamed Awad saved a ball with his hands from outside the penalty area, and the referee did not calculate a free kick or anything, and even demanded that play continue amid a wide astonishment from everyone.
Egyptian football followers thought that this disaster would resolve the non-repetition of refereeing errors in the Egyptian Premier League football matches, especially after the heinous attack on the refereeing staff, which resulted in an official decision to suspend the referee of the match, but the crisis continued to flare up from year to year, which shattered the hopes of emerging football teams to achieve advanced positions in the league table, and participate in continental tournaments such as the African Champions League or the African Confederation Championship.
Recurring crisis of referee corruption in Egypt
The refereeing crisis in Egypt is witnessing a remarkable development in the recent period, as the emerging football clubs suffer from the continuation of the journey of the Egyptian Premier League, after the clear stubbornness they are exposed to in favour of the most popular clubs, which appeared recently this month, especially in the first minute of the match Zamalek and Smouha, within the eighteenth round of the Premier League Championship.
The arbitration disaster was new of its kind this time, when only 15 seconds passed from the events of the meeting, and Zamalek player Mohamed Abd El-Shafi made a mistake, in passing the ball to his team’s defense line, to be kidnapped by Hossam Hassan, striker of Smouha Club, from inside the penalty area of the white team, to do Mohamed Abd El-Ghani, defender of Zamalek Club, “mashing” the player’s foot clearly in front of everyone.
The strange thing is that the match referee, Ibrahim Nour El-Din, returned to review the game again via the Var technique, but he decided not to calculate a penalty kick in favour of the Alexandrian team to continue playing normally, in a usual scene from the Egyptian refereeing, and even the director of the match deliberately showed the aforementioned shot in front of the viewers (black and white), so that the vision is not fully clear.
One of the players of emerging clubs in Egypt, who refused to be named, so as not to be subjected to legal accountability, says in an exclusive interview with The Middle East Beat, that his journey in moving between the Egyptian Premier League clubs exceeded 7 years, during which he did not achieve any official championship, despite his many participations in matches, attributing the reason to the refereeing crisis in Egypt, which was exposed to disasters more than 20 times.
The player expresses his sad career in the world of football: “I would have liked to play for popular clubs in Egypt such as Al-Ahly or Zamalek, so that I could avoid repeated refereeing errors, which affected the future of many players in different clubs, and even made a difference in the fate of many football coaches, who were greatly wronged by repeated refereeing errors in the Premier League.”
He concludes his speech, explaining that some players in emerging clubs decided to retire from football permanently in the past few years, after they lost hope in the progress of the teams they joined, or competing with the most popular clubs, stressing that small teams suffer from several things, most notably that the media does not address any details except for popular clubs and affiliated with major companies, which affects the absence of marketing for small clubs, and makes them less likely to defend their rights, as they have been exposed to cases of refereeing errors.
Flops of the “Var” rooms
For his part, Omar Emad, a sports critic, believes that the refereeing crisis in the Egyptian Premier League is very huge, due to the referees’ different treatment of the two most popular teams in Egypt (Al-Ahly and Al-Zamalek), and the referees’ strange actions in calculating direct free kicks or penalties, and cancelling goals or counting them in favour of popular clubs.
“Emad” explains in an exclusive interview with The Middle East Beat: “I personally asked many of the players of the Egyptian Premier League, all of them unanimously agreed on one thing, playing for Al-Ahly or Zamalek is one thing, and playing against them is another thing entirely, despite the large presence of corporate clubs in recent times, but the injustice is clear to them, in exchange for the full bias of the popular clubs in Egypt.”
He adds: “There are several crises within the rooms of the Var, and I attended one of the matches inside the room of the Var, accompanied by one of my friends from the directors of the matches, and I saw then the disasters arbitration, it became clear to me the extent of apprehension that exists n before the referees of the Var in favour of Ahli and Zamalek, the two teams if they were wronged once, the teams that play against them will wronged 10 times, as a compensation for the two teams”.
As for the reasons for the resignation of the previous arbitration committee, which came under the leadership of the English referee Mark Clattenburg, the sports critic confirms that he decided to leave the presidency of the referees committee in Egypt, because of his repeated crises with Zamalek club president Mortada Mansour, as well as being insulted and slandered publicly in the club’s television programs.
In conclusion, he says: “The presence of Clattenburg in the referees committee did not add anything to the tournament, because his personality was completely absent with the Egyptian referees, and this was quite clear especially in his review of the wrong decisions and refereeing cases, and nothing changed”.
We also got in touch with Mohamed Mohsen, a former Egyptian Premier League referee, who decided to leave the profession a few years ago due to widespread corruption in referee matches, and a lack of desire to belong to the system in general, it became clear that there was another disaster in Egyptian arbitration, little is known about, which is the appointment of people as referees inside the Farr rooms, who do not belong in any way to the profession, and do not have the usual referees.
Mohsen continues his conversation with “The Middle East Beat”, pointing out that these people are relatives of members within the arbitration committee and the Egyptian Football Association, and some of them also have close relations with the presidents of mass clubs in Egypt, and have been appointed in order to provide services to certain clubs, and this has become widely clear in front of the fans recently, and resulted in refereeing disasters that have no analogue in other tournaments.
He says: “Last year, 16 clubs out of 18 participating in the Egyptian Premier League competition, filed official complaints against the wrong refereeing decisions they were subjected to, at the same time that the Egyptian Club Association was asking a committee to contract with a foreign expert to develop the system, which was rejected more than once by the referees committee without giving clear reasons”.
Mohsen concludes: “The continuous pressure by the Egyptian clubs forced the referees committee in the end to bring in the English referee Mark Clattenburg, but only a few months have passed until the parties to the system deliberately spoil his work, and even made it completely cancelled, no impact of his decisions permanently, until he submitted his resignation and left the country, and this is the biggest evidence of the lack of hope for the progress of Egyptian football”.
Image Credit: Omar Emad