The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has expressed its dismay over the disappearance of a number of old trophies from the Egyptian Football Association.
On Friday, the EFA announced that it had discovered the disappearance of some old trophies from its stores, affirming that it will investigate to locate them.
"The CAF has learned with shock reports about missing AFCON trophies from the Egyptian Football Association secretariat. Our doors are open and the EFA can count on our support in the search for the priceless memorabilia," the CAF said in a statement on Sunday.
According to media reports, the original African Cup of Nations trophies that the Pharaohs won in 2006, 2008, 2010 are among the missing trophies.
The EFA discovered the trophies’ disappearance during their preparations to develop the association's headquarters and to organise a trophy display while celebrating 100 years since the EFA's establishment.
Sports ministry joins investigation
Egypt's Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy announced that there will be a ministerial committee arriving at the EFA headquarters to join the investigation into the disappearance of the old trophies.
"We will release a statement about the investigation soon," Sobhy told a television programme late on Saturday.
The EFA said that it is looking into the possibility that the old trophies were lost when the building was looted and set on fire in 2013 when the Ultras fan group stormed the headquarters.
Egyptian football icons deny accusations
Former EFA board member Magdi Abdel-Ghani has said that the trophies disappeared in 2012 or 2013 when a number of Ultras members stormed the headquarters and set fire to the building.
"Ask Shawki Gharib [the assistant coach of Egypt’s national team at that time], as he was part of winning these trophies and he is also aware of managerial matters," the former EFA board member told a television programme.
"I am like all the fans; I don't know where the trophies have disappeared. I have heard before that there is one cup with Gharib and another with Ahmed Hassan, but I am not accusing anyone," Abdel-Ghani said.
Meanwhile, former skipper of Egypt’s national team Ahmed Hassan has dismissed Abdel-Ghani's statements linking him to the disappearance, saying that he returned the 2010 trophy to the EFA headquarters after removing it to take photos with the cup alongside his teammates and members of the team's technical staff.
"As a captain of the Egyptian national team in the 2010 tournament, I took the trophy to take a photo alongside a number of the team's players and the technical staff at the time," Hassan told reporters after the EFA announced that the trophies had disappeared.
"But I handed it to the EFA officials with documentation," Hassan added.
"I would not have returned it to the EFA if I had known it would disappear," Hassan said.
National team assistant coach Shawki Gharib has also dismissed reports linking him with the disappearance, saying "this is nonsense that does not deserve a response."
"I call on the person who has the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations trophy to return it and we will give him a replica of this cup, as it is part of Egypt’s sporting heritage and cannot be replicated," Gharib said.
Egypt received the AFCON trophy, which is made of gold, after claiming the title for the third time in 2010 edition.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)