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Official: Al Ahly suspend striker Abdel-Zaher for ‘Rabaa’ sign
Al Ahly have suspended striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher without pay on Monday for giving the ‘Rabaa’ salute after he scored against Orlando Pirates in the CAF Champions League final, the club announced on its official website.
Ahly have officially suspended striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher on Monday for a four-finger celebration, the ‘Rabaa’ sign – which is often used by Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to sympathize with anti-military protesters who were killed in Rabaa al-Adawiya square following a massive crackdown on August 14 – after he scored the second goal against the Orlando Pirates on Sunday’s CAF Champions League final.
“In a meeting held today, the football committee decided to suspend the first team’s striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher and to freeze all of his financial dues,” a statement read on the club’s website Monday.
“The committee tasked the club’s football department head Hadi Khashaba and the team’s football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz to conduct an investigation before presenting their findings to an emergency board meeting on Tuesday,” the statement added.
The 28-year-old striker, who scored three goals in the competition, will also be subject to further investigations by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and could very well be excluded from the Ahly squad ahead of next month’s Club World Cup in Morocco.
When questioned about the gesture, Abdel-Zaher didn’t deny that it was for Rabaa, but said it was only dedicated to the martyrs – including the policemen – rather than a political party.
“Yes, I raised the sign of Rabaa,” Abdel-Zaher was quoted by FilGoal.
“But I didn’t mean political excitement to any one side or fan. All I meant to do was to remember the martyrs, whether in Rabaa, any other citizen and even policemen.”
Egyptian Sports Minister Taher Abou-Zeid labelled the player’s actions as a “grave insult” which could not go unpunished, and expects both the club and the EFA to take action.
Abdel-Zaher is the second Egyptian athlete to be punished because of the four-fingered sign as kung fu champion Mohamed Youssef was banned from competing for one year after wearing a T-shirt with the same symbol at a medal ceremony last month.
UPDATE (November 12): Al Ahly have officially ruled out Abdel-Zaher from taking part in the Club World Cup and have transfer listed him for the Rabaa sign.