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Exclusive: Egyptian kung fu champion stands by his support for pro-Morsi protesters
Egyptian kung fu athlete Mohamed Youssef was suspended after showing solidarity with the pro-Morsi Rabaa protesters during a competition in Russia
Ahmed Abd El Rasoul, Tuesday 29 Oct 2013
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Egypt Kung Fu player
Egypt Kung Fu player Mohamed Youssef celebrates winning the gold medal at the World Championship in Russia (Photo: the player's official Facebook page)

Kung fu champion Mohamed Youssef, who has been suspended from competing internationally by Egyptian officials after he made a gesture in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, told Ahram Online he stood by his actions.

While receiving his gold medal at a competition in Russia, Youssef wore a t-shirt displaying the four-fingered symbol associated with the Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest camp.

Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at the camp were violently dispersed in August by security forces.

The Egyptian kung fu association has banned Youssef from representing Egypt in the upcoming world championships, which take place in Malaysia in November, and ordered him to return to Cairo to await the association’s judgement.

Egyptian Sports Minister Taher Abou-Zeid referred the player as well as association officials for investigation on the grounds that the athlete’s action broke local and international regulations against introducing politics into sport.

"I want to stress that what I did came after the formal ceremony and the Egyptian national anthem, but anyway I am still proud of it," Youssef told Ahram Online by phone on Tuesday. He stressed the interview was his first official comment to the media since the incident.

The Egyptian kung fu association has since faced accusations of bias from Morsi supporters, who claim that if the player had displayed any other political sign he would not have facing such a fierce attack.

"I wore the Rabaa sign in solidarity with some of my friends and neighbours who died there. It was a message of loyalty to them and their families," explained the gold medallist.

"I don't belong to any political party and what I did wasn't the result of pressure from anyone. I am sad that the media is only concentrated on the incident, ignoring my previous and current achievements for the country,” he told Ahram.

"I don't regret what I did, but I want to apologise to the Egyptian association officials and my coach, if I’ve caused them any harm.

"I have a lot of confidence in the officials and I am ready for any punishment," he said.

Mohamed
Mohamed with the Egyptian Kung Fu Association president Sheirf Mostafa

Sanctions

Sherif Mostafa, president of the Egyptian kung fu association, told Ahram Online that the decision to suspend Youssef was not a result of his political allegiance.

"Everyone is free to express his political opinion, but [only] outside sport. The behaviour of Youssef contradicted the Olympic code of ethics and so there was an initial decision to suspend him," he said on Tuesday in a phone call from Malaysia.

"The decision is not related to politics at all. If Mohamed had held up a photo of Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi he would have been punished also,” he said.

Mostafa said that Egypt was lucky to escape sanctions at the Russian event.

"Egypt was facing a punishment by the international federation, but we managed to convince them that it was an individual act and that the player will be punished appropriately.

"Youssef's behaviour spoiled our celebration with the gold medal, but nevertheless he will keep it, and he wasn't subjected to any investigations by the security authorities upon his arrival at Cairo airport," he said.

"His club informed the association today that they have officially decided to release him. The association board will hold a meeting after our return from the championship in Malaysia to make our final decision on the player," he said.

Mostafa told Ahram Online that the penalty faced by the gold medallist will not be very severe.

“He will be suspended for a while just to stop him repeating this incident and also to prove that we are not totally against him.”

Social media controversy

The incident has ignited considerable debate in Egypt, where tensions remain high between both supporters and opponents of the post-Morsi government.

"Youssef told me in Russia that he didn't think the matter would be exaggerated like that," said Mostafa.

"Last month, the Egyptian team claimed 23 gold medals in a championship in Madagascar and we didn’t get the same media attention,” he said.

Youssef reportedly received a warm welcome in his home town of Alexandria on Monday from Morsi supporters.

A photo of 10 kung fu players was shared across social media sites in Egypt on Tuesday showing them making the Rabaa sign amid reports that they support Youssef.

"This photo is not in support of Youssef. It was taken two months ago at a training session in their club, and we couldn't punish them as it didn’t happen at an official event," said Mostafa.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sportsand on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)



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Mohamed Metwalli
11-11-2013 06:17am
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We are going backwards
It's a shame that they have taken a medal from a champion. He's still the world champion but not in his home country Egypt. Shame on what's going on and who is running Egypt now.
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Grace
08-11-2013 10:26pm
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mohamed youssef
I think that it was to strong and harsh that they striped him of his metal and of being on the team. I think that when he did so much for his team it was a sham that he could not help and represent his team. in the text it said that it was ok to represent political party's, but just not in sports. why is that how it works why cant he express his felling's?
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64



Kaya
08-11-2013 10:23pm
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I don't Get Why..
I don't get why you would have a Medal that you EARNED taken away from you just because of you wearing a t-shirt that had something about the president before on it. Well, yes we have different government but he EARNED that Medal. I don't think you can get something you earned taken away from you. Also, If he earned his way on the team, Why is he getting cut from it? I really don't get that. I mean, it's just a shirt, why do you have to take his Medal, again, That he EARNED, and cut him from the team and he earner his way on the team? Punishing him just for supporting a forer president? To me that's jut wrong but I guess they think differently with their government.
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63



Abbi
08-11-2013 10:22pm
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summary of the atricle
This article is about how Mohamed Youssef wore a t-shirt that had four fingers the sign of Rabaa Al-Adawiya camp. in this article it says that Mohamed Youssef said "I don't regret what I did, but I want to apologize to the Egyptian association officials and my coach, if I've caused them any harm" I infer that he is sort of said for what he did.
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62



Chyna
08-11-2013 10:20pm
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Just Wondering
I really don't get why he gets punished like that for wearing a shirt that represents a president in Egypt. I think he shouldn't get his medal taken away becuase wearing that shirt had nothing to do with winning a medal in kung fu. I think he deserves to to get his medal back. And what did the president in Egypt do that was so bad that got his medal taken away. Well in the text it says that he's just representing Egypt because he was Egyptian.
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61



Max Reynolds
08-11-2013 10:19pm
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Exclusive: Egyptian kung fu champion stands by his support for pro-Morsi protesters
From this article, I can infer that Egypt has a strong opinion, but it is also stating that they aren't really accusing the kung fu champion, Mohamed Youssef. For example, it states in the article, “He will be suspended for a while just to stop him repeating this incident and also to prove that we are not totally against him.” From this text, I am wondering why they are giving him more of a warning rather than a real punishment? Did they give him a different punishment because he won them a gold medal, or is he a more special person than other Egyptians? In conclusion, Egypt is penalizing Youssef in a different way, but why?
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Tyler
08-11-2013 10:19pm
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Youseff was Using Politics in Sports
I think that there was no reason Mohammed should have used Politics in sports. This was the main reason he was suspended.
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Arthur
08-11-2013 10:19pm
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That is not fair
I dont really get how it is possible to get your medal taken away "I don't regret what I did, but I want to apologise to the Egyptian association officials and my coach, if I’ve caused them any harm.-Mohamed yousef I would not regret what i did because I would stay with my point
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Claire
08-11-2013 10:13pm
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Suspension isn't very fair
I don't think that the suspension is very fair because he was just wearing a logo on a t-shirt. I know it was supporting the ousted president a little. he was just wearing it at the wrong time. He probably shouldn't have worn it at the competition but the officials shouldn't have suspended him for it. Wearing the logo didn't do any physical harm and that it was just kind of "randomly" taken.
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57



Alanna
08-11-2013 10:13pm
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Why?
What did Morsi do that was bad it got him impeached? Why is it such a horrible idea if someone is shown supporting Morsi? What was so bad that Egypt suspended their gold medal winning champ from competing?
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