The decision to appoint the Normalisation Committee that will temporarily supervise football in Egypt follows the recent resignation of the president of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the entire EFA board following Egypt’s embarrassing early ouster from the Africa Cup of Nations last month which Egypt was hosting.
The committee is composed of five people: Amr Youssef Hassan Al-Ganaini (chairman), Gamal Mohamed Ali (deputy chairman) and three members — Sahar Abdel-Hak Ahmed, Mohamed Fadl Zahran and Ahmed Abdullah Radi. It officially started its work earlier this week.
The committee, which has held its first meeting, started by accepting the resignation of two senior football officials in the EFA: the EFA executive director Sarwat Swelem, and Amer Hussein the head of the Competitions Department. The resignations brought with them controversy of their own as they were seen by many as a sacking more than a resignation.
Swelem, who has been running the association since the resignation of the entire board of directors in May, was replaced by a senior EFA official, Walid Al-Attar, head of the Players’ Affairs Committee. Hussein is the long-time head of competitions, a position which remains vacant so far with the department being run by its deputy until a head is named. The Competitions Department is the core of any football association, which makes the selection of a new head so critical.
But this is not the only challenge facing the Normalisation Committee. There is the appointment of a new head coach and coaching staff for the Pharaohs’ senior team. And there is the recent decision by the Egyptian Sports Settlement and Arbitration Center which cancelled an EFA decision to relegate three teams after the end of the national league season.
Egyptians are waiting anxiously the choice of the new head coach. It has been confirmed that the coach will be Egyptian, at least for the time being as the search for a foreigner needs more time, according to EFA media director Osama Ismail.
Several names are on the table, including the legendary Hassan Shehata, the former head coach of the Pharaohs with whom he won three African titles in a row. Other names are former Ahli and Olympic national team coach Hossam Al-Badri and former Zamalek, Pyramids and Masri coach Hossam Hassan. The goalkeeping coach will most likely be former national team goalkeeper Essam Al-Hadari. In the 2018 World Cup, at the age of 45, Al-Hadari became the oldest player in history to play in a World Cup match.
Meantime, according to the final standings of the 2018-2019 league season, Negoom, Dakhlia and Petrojet were relegated to the second division. The teams rejected the ruling and filed a court case to the arbitration center to overrule the decision. The center suspended the relegation decision and the suspension of the final national league standings.
In May, eight clubs from the Egyptian Premier League signed a memorandum requesting the cancellation of relegation this season, citing the lack of consistent match days and poor officiating among their reasons.
However, the EFA then, under the leadership of Hani Abu Rida, stated that the EFA had not taken this possibility into consideration since it was a matter related to the league’s regulations that were put forward and agreed upon by mutual consent with the 18 clubs participating in the league.
“The EFA is sticking to the solid principal of finishing the Premier League competition with the same regulations which it started with. The association did not consider and did not discuss anything that breaches the regulations related to the competition,” the EFA commented on its Facebook page at the time.
The committee thus announced that Egypt’s new head football coach and the relegation issue are two urgent issues that will be top of the agenda of the committee meeting which was scheduled for Wednesday.
The Normalisation Committee is currently running the EFA until the end of July 2020. The Bureau of the FIFA Council had decided to appoint the Normalisation Committee for the EFA in accordance with art. 14 par. 1 (a) and art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes.
The formation of the committee followed a visit by a FIFA mission to Cairo. The mandate of the Normalisation Committee includes the following: to run the daily affairs of EFA; to review the EFA statutes (and other regulations where necessary) to ensure their compliance with the FIFA statutes and requirements; and to ensure their adoption by the EFA Congress; to review the statutes of the EFA members and ensure their alignment with the new EFA statutes as well as with the FIFA statutes and requirements, and ensure that these statutes are adopted by the relevant members; to organise and conduct elections for all EFA members based on their new statutes; and, as a last step, to act as an electoral committee in order to organise and conduct elections of a new EFA board based on the newly aligned EFA statutes.
While the five members assumed their duties with immediate effect, all members of the Normalisation Committee must pass an eligibility check to be carried out by the FIFA Review Committee in accordance with the FIFA Governance Regulations. Their confirmation will be contingent upon the outcome of the eligibility check.
As the Normalisation Committee will also act as an electoral committee, none of its members can be eligible for any of the open positions in the elections under any circumstances. The specified period of time during which the Normalisation Committee will perform its functions shall expire no later than 31 July 2020 or as soon as it has fulfilled all of its tasks.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 August, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly