OPINION: Al Masry’s unacceptable actions perpetuate negative stereotypes of African football
Al Masry’s actions during their CAF Confederations Cup tie against AS Vita Club shine a negative light on African football as a whole. Fans fighting, destroying locker rooms, and accusing a referee of taking bribes perpetuate stereotypes of African football being undeveloped. KingFut’s Malek Shafei examines the situation.
Al Masry drew 0-0 at home to AS Vita Club of DR Congo in the first leg of the CAF Confederations Cup semi-final. Reaching the semi-finals was an almost unprecedented feat for the Port Said, who hadn’t reached the semi-finals of this competition since 2002. For the away leg in Kinshasa, Al Masry were shocked by Vita’s dominance, and the Egyptian club was unable to push back against the Congolese club, losing 4-0.
A brace from Emomo Eddy Ngoyi gave AS Vita Club a 2-0 advantage heading into halftime. Hossam Hassan was so furious that he got into an altercation with Congolese coach Jean-Florent Ibenge at halftime before being held back by the rest of his coaching staff.
Al Masry were easily frustrated due to their inability to finish their chances and Vita’s solid defensive line. Come the 75th minute, Vita Club had scored a third from a seemingly offside position, angering Al Masry coach and Egyptian National Team icon Hossam Hassan. Former Wadi Degla striker Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele appeared to be offsides when he received a through ball before rounding the keeper and slotting it into the net to make it 3-0.
Hassan, who adamantly believed that the goal was offsides, ordered his team off the pitch after the goal. Hassan’s antics delayed the match by over five minutes. Replays affirmed referee Bernard Camille’s decision, as Mundele was clearly onside when the ball was played.
After the match resumed, Hossam Hassan and his brother Ibrahim Hassan hurled insults at the referees before Vita put the final nail in the coffin with a Batezadio goal in stoppage time.
A Vita win was not unexpected, but the pandemonium after the game shocked many.
Chaos in Congo:
Following the full-time whistle, Al Masry players reeked havoc on the pitch. Players destroyed multiple advertising boards and some appeared to throw objects at the crowd.
Al Masry weren’t the only instigators though. Al Masry coach Hossam Hassan was hit by a brick that was thrown by a Vita fan from the stands. He was rushed to the hospital due to his injury.
اصابة الكابتن حسام حسن المدير الفني للمصري بطوبة ألقاها أحد جماهير فيتا كلوب عقب المباراة الأمر الذي استدعى نقله للمستشفى pic.twitter.com/CzM1oePFHo
— Al-Masry SC (@AlMasrySC) October 24, 2018
The calamity was not over once the Al Masry players left the pitch. The Egyptian team destroyed the away locker room, leaving trash everywhere and destroying equipment that Vita Club had left for them.
Shortly after the match, Al Masry director of football Ibrahim Hassan made shocking allegations against referee Bernard Camille. Hassan claimed that referee Bernard Camille wanted a bribe from Al Masry, saying: “He [Bernard Camille] asked us for a bribe and we managed to record it.”
“We reached out to CAF to try and submit these recordings as evidence for them to start investigating on the matter. This whole situation started after the technical meeting when the referee asked the team’s manager for his phone number. He contacted him using Whatsapp and we have screenshots of text messages to prove our case,” Hassan concluded.
Screenshots of an alleged Whatsapp conversation between Camille and an Al Masry coach were leaked, in which Camille demanded a bribe to swing the game in favor of the Egyptian club.
The screenshots, which were not proven to be true, shed an extremely poor light on African football due to the unprofessional nature of the situation.
To begin with, allegations of this magnitude should be dealt with in a private matter between the club and CAF or FIFA. Hassan meanwhile, decided it would be best to discuss this on the radio.
Posting screenshots of private Whatsapp conversations is also extremely unprofessional. Should the screenshots prove to be fabricated, CAF should enforce serious consequences against Al Masry for making false allegations and then falsifying evidence.
The story itself also raises more questions than answered. Why was the club in contact with the referee before the match? How was the referee able to get the coach’s number? Even if Camille did demand a bribe, he should not have been able to get in contact with the coach and the coach should not have responded.
The allegations seem to be a sorry attempt at defending the team’s loss by blaming the referee. The situation challenges the integrity of the sport in Africa. Everything about the story perpetuates stereotypes that African football is undeveloped, corrupt, and unprofessional.
Al Masry’s handling of the entire situation, from destroying advertising boards to accusing the referee of demanding a bribe, was incredibly disreputable. If CAF does not reprimand the Egyptian club, they set a precedent of how situations like the should be handled, essentially saying that Al Masry’s actions were correct and fine.
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