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Official: EFA ban Abdel-Zaher from international duty for ‘Rabaa’ sign
Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, who was officially suspended and transfer-listed by Al Ahy for flashing the ‘Rabaa’ sign after he scored the second goal against the Orlando Pirates in the CAF Champions League final, has now been banned from representing the national team for one year, the EFA announced on Thursday.
The ‘Rabaa’ salute – 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 – has also led to the EFA handing Abdel-Zaher a three-month ban from domestic football.
Abdel-Zaher, who scored three goals for Ahly in the Champions League, has also been excluded from Mohamed Youssef’s squad ahead of this month’s Club World Cup in Morocco.
The 28-year-old striker, who said the sign was dedicated to the martyrs of Rabaa – including the policemen – has since reportedly attracted the interest of Sudanese giants Al Merrikh, Club Africain of Tunisia and Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia – who are coached by his former boss at ENPPI.
Egyptian Sports Minister Taher Abou-Zeid labelled the player’s actions as a ‘grave insult’ which could not go unpunished, and also added that signs and pictures of a ‘national icon’ like the armed forces chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi can not be compared to the Rabaa sign – which supports ‘a group that all Egyptians are against’.
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 the month before.