Egyptian Greco Roman wrestler Ahmed Baghdoda wins the silver medal in the African Wrestling Championships in Tunisia
Greco Roman wrestler Baghdoda, 21, sparked controversy when he secretly left the team's mission and allegedly traveled to France just hours after winning a silver medal at the African Wrestling Championships in Tunisia from 15-21 May.
Sobhi instructed the formation of a ministerial committee to investigate Baghdoda’s escape from the national wrestling mission camp, the ministry said in a statement.
‘Unbearable’ financial pressures
In a television interview, the athlete’s father, Fouad Baghdoda, stated that his son had faced "unbearable pressures," which included not receiving any financial support from the federation for the past year.
He disclosed to Kelma Akhira TV programme last week, that after tax deductions, his son received only EGP 1,200 ($38) out of his total financial compensation of EGP 16,000 ($517).
In response, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement on Tuesday clarifying that Baghdoda's financial compensation amounted to EGP 18,000 ($582) before deductions, representing his six-month salary. However, 13 percent of his compensation was withheld for taxes, and EGP 13,680 were deducted as fees for his transfer from a youth center in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate to the sport ministry's national talent project.
The ministry further explained that the fees for the transfer were deferred until Baghdoda received his financial compensation to ease the burden on him.
On Wednesday, the National Training Academy (NTA) extended an invitation to Baghdoda to receive "a training and rehabilitation grant, as a promising sports talent, in accordance with the President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s directives.”
Social media debate
Since his disappearance, Baghdoda has remained silent, leading to speculation among social media users that the wrestler may have traveled to Europe and chosen not to represent Egypt anymore, following in the footsteps of other Egyptian athletes who have made similar decisions.
Last year, Egyptian wrestler Mohamed Essam, 17, also fled the national mission in Italy, shortly after participating in the U17 World Championships in Rome. The sports ministry reported Essam's case to the United World Wrestling to prevent him from joining other national teams abroad.
Egyptian-English professional squash player Mohamed El-Shorbagy also made the decision last year to switch his representation from Egypt to England in international championships. El-Shorbagy emphasized that his decision was not motivated by financial reasons. However, he expressed the hope that England would provide him with “all the needed support” he felt was lacking.
In a statement last Saturday, the Egyptian Wrestling Federation confirmed that they have been in communication with the United World Wrestling to ensure that Baghdoda remains a part of the Egyptian national team, in accordance with the applicable regulations.
Amidst the controversy, numerous social media users have shown their support for Baghdoda, condemning the perceived "unfair" treatment he has endured throughout his years with the Egyptian Wrestling Federation.
Other users have expressed their disappointment with Baghdoda's sudden departure from the team camp, criticizing him for abandoning the mission after representing Egypt.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has publicly called for Baghdoda to return to Egypt, offering to address any issues that have caused him distress, stating, "Return [to Egypt] and I will resolve any problems that have troubled you."
Baghdoda won the gold medal at the Arab Roman Wrestling Championship held in Cairo in November 2019 and another gold medal in February 2019 in an Egyptian national wrestling championship.