Mohamed Abou-Treika, who is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in Egypt’s history, said on Thursday he will not leave the country after reports claimed his assets had been confiscated by the central bank.
Egyptian daily El-Watan said the central bank had acted upon the instructions of a committee drawn up to seize and manage the Muslim Brotherhood’s funds and properties following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
The paper said Abou-Treika is accused of having ties to the outlawed Brotherhood, alleging that he owned a tourism company linked to the Islamist group during Morsi’s short one-year reign.
“We earn money to keep it in our hands, not in our hearts. You can seize money or seize whoever you want, but I will not leave this country and I will continue to work here,” the 36-year-old said in a brief statement on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
It was not immediately clear if Abou-Treika’s statement means that he is confirming the Watan report. He was unavailable for comment.
A hugely popular footballing figure, Abou-Treika hung up his boots in late 2013 after leading Egypt’s most successful club Ahly to a host of domestic and continental trophies to earn a cult status among their faithful. He was also instrumental in helping Egypt win two African Cup of Nations titles in 2006 and 2008.
He publicly supported Morsi during the first post-Hosni Mubarak presidential elections in 2012 but has remained largely tight-lipped following the Islamist president’s overthrow after mass protests against his one-year rule.
Pro-state media constantly accuse him of being a member of the Brotherhood.
Social media users created several hashtags to support Abou-Treika shortly after he released his statement.
#iSupportAbouTrika and two other Arabic hashtags trended in Egypt, with many launching a vicious attack on the authorities.
“They have released from prison all the Mubarak thieves and decided to implicate the most respectful figure in this country,” said one user.
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