Egypt's football future in limbo as clubs halt trainings

Karim Farouk , Monday 16 Mar 2020

Foreign players have requested to return to their countries as it is unclear when football activities will resume in Egypt

Ahly And Zamalek (Reuters)
Ahly And Zamalek (Reuters)

Egyptian football clubs have suspended their activities following the decision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports to halt domestic competitions for two weeks, until the end of March, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

All the clubs have already given their players some time off, and defending champions and league leaders Ahly came in line following Monday's training, giving their players a six-day break.

The teams currently have no commitments since domestic, continental and regional competitions have been put on hold.

A number of foreign players – of whom Egyptian football has seen increasing numbers in recent years -- have requested to return to their countries, especially following Egypt's decision to shut down its airports from 19 to 31 March to slow down the spread of the virus.

Premier League clubs are each allowed to have up to four foreign players and a North African player.

"All our foreign players have asked to return to their countries. We will allow them to because there is no reason to keep them here especially that we don't know when we will resume the games. It is yet unclear if we will resume trainings soon, but I guess we won't know that before the end of March," Ismaily's football director Sabri El-Menyawi told Egyptian website Filgoal.

Zamalek's trio Ferjani Sassi of Tunisia, Achraf Bencharki and Mohamed Ounajem of Morocco left the country and won't be recalled before the club resumes trainings.

Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi said on Sunday that there is no guarantee that the league will resume after the two-week suspension, adding that the situation will be assessed later on.

"It is too early to discuss the cancellation of the season but we must be prepared for all scenarios. We are not the only country facing this crisis and we will see how others will deal with it and work a solution according to our situation," Egyptian Football Association board member Mohamed Fadl told a TV programme on Saturday.

Egypt has taken preemptive measures on Monday including suspending all flights and reducing the presence of public sector employees in their offices to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The cabinet announced that 150 cases have been reported until Monday, 16 March, but so far no infections among players or sportsmen were detected.

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

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