Zamalek Club President Mortada Mansour has announced that his team will not play the African Super Cup clash against Esperance of Tunisia in Qatar.
“I am not going to allow my team to play in Qatar. I said this before and I will say it forever, whatever the consequences are. Even when the handball team reached the Club World Cup and was scheduled to play in Qatar, we withdrew,” Mansour said in a video posted on the Egyptian club’s official website.
“I don’t mind facing Esperance in Tunisia, but I won’t play in Qatar for the sake of a piece of metal (referring to the trophy),” Mansour said.
For the past two years, relations between Egypt and Qatar have been strained, with Egypt and other Gulf Arab countries charging Qatar with supporting terrorism.
As such, in 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar after years of unstable relations.
The Super Cup is one match played annually between the club that wins the African Champions League and the team that takes the African Confederation Cup. Esperance is eyeing the title after losing last season 2-1 to Raja Casablanca.
Zamalek won the Super Cup after they defeated Morocco’s RS Berkane on penalties.
Esperance beat Wydad of Morocco in a highly contentious affair brought on by a disputed goal after VAR had malfunctioned.
Last year the Confederation of African Football (CAF) signed an agreement with Qatar to host the Super Cup for three years, starting from last season.
After having lifted the CAF Confederation Cup trophy back in May, Zamalek were set to face Champions League winners Esperance Sportive de Tunis in the Super Cup.
The game was supposed to take place in mid-August, however, it was postponed until CAF reached a decision regarding the Champions League final whose result was postponed due to the VAR glitch.
The organising committee eventually ruled that the Tunisian giants were the deserved winners.
Before announcing a date for the encounter, CAF revealed that the Super Cup would be played in Qatar which angered Mansour who refuses to play the game there.
“CAF won’t expect my reaction,” Mansour said. “I will send an official letter to the CAF to clarify our decision.”
Added Mansour: “I don’t mind playing the Super Cup in Tunisia but we will not play in Qatar even if we are relegated to the third division.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.