Omar Gaber: I won’t play for Zamalek again
Egypt international Omar Gaber, 23, stated in television remarks after almost 30 fans lost their lives due to clashes with police outside the Air Defence Stadium – before the match against ENPPI – that he won’t play again for Zamalek.
Gaber started by saying: “I won’t play for Zamalek again. I need some time off the field.”
According to Omar Gaber, the Zamalek bus was heading to the stadium with the Ultras White Knights (UWK) attending for the first time since the start of the Egyptian Premier League.
A few minutes later, the UWK blocked the bus from entering the stadium causing Omar Gaber, Ismail Youssef and Ayman Taher to get off the bus after all three started ‘suffocating’ due to the tear gas being fired towards the fans.
Gaber said: “I decided not to play the moment UWK blocked the road.”
Later on, other players followed Gaber down the bus running into the dessert away from the tear gas and the bus.
UWK’s attempts to block the bus was only to inform the players about the death of fans that was caused by their clash with police earlier, which made Gaber and Youssef help some fans into the bus in attempts to protect them and reduce the number of casualties.
Gaber said: “Some players knew about the fans saying there were dead people but others didn’t.
“No player was sure whether anyone died or not,” he added.
Gaber was very suspicious that there were lots of deaths among the fans after some reports leaked into the Whites’ dressing room.
Gaber also said: “The whole team decided not to play after they knew about the clashes between the fans and the police.”
“Later on, we got a message from authorities confirming there was no one dead from the fans, yet I was determined not to play the match,” he added.
Zamalek supporters were very loud outside of the stadium, making Gaber approach some to make sure there was no one dead, only for the fans to confirm the opposite.
With the tension increasing, Gaber said: “Doctors had to inject me to be able to stand on my feet.”
This was when Gaber decided to ask the coaching staff not to participate in the match in an attempt to cool off some fans.
Hazem Emam and many other Zamalek players tried to convince Gaber to play for the sake of the fans attending, but Gaber replied: “I won’t play, that’s final.”
After the match, Gaber went to the Zamalek players to confirm there were fans dead outside seeing the shock in Hazem Emam’s eyes.
Fans attacked the Whites players’ only for Gaber to say: “Don’t blame anyone but me,” before adding: “Even the players attacked me, but I forgive everyone of them.”
“If the players knew that there were dead fans outside they wouldn’t have played the game,” he concluded.
It is worth mentioning that Zamalek’s board of directors terminated Omar Gaber’s contract extension after the latter refused to participate in the match.