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Hardships on the way: Time out for Mortada Mansour

One of the country’s more controversial figures has recently suffered some major setbacks

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 1 Dec 2020
Time out for Mortada Mansour

In one month, Zamalek Club’s combative President Mortada Mansour lost his two most precious positions: his seat as a member of parliament and the presidency of Zamalek. He lost the first in elections and earlier this week Zamalek’s board was dissolved.

From those two influential bodies, Mansour had wielded much power, including parliament immunity and the backing of his club’s massive fan base. However, for most Egyptians, his downward spiral came as a relief.

In November, Mansour, who is a lawyer by practice, lost his parliamentary seat in the Meit Ghamr constituency in the Daqahliya governorate. Falling behind in sixth place, Mansour lost the chance to enter a run-off scheduled for this week. Days before, his son Ahmed also lost his Cairo seat in the same elections.

Earlier in October, when Mansour was still an MP, the Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC) took a bold decision to suspend him from all sports-related activities for four years, fined him LE100,000 and called on the club’s management to elect a replacement as president.

The committee also filed a case with the prosecution regarding incidents noted in the committee’s investigations. The ENOC had also urged the Supreme Council for Media Regulation to take action against the Zamalek satellite TV channel for offending opponents of Mansour and the club as well as broadcasting offensive content and hate speech.

The ENOC has warned any sports body not to deal with Mansour as president of Zamalek and to ignore any communications initiated by him.

Losing the parliamentary elections was one blow to Mansour. Another came shortly after, with Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi announcing the dissolving of the board of directors of Zamalek and appointing an interim three-man board to run its affairs until new elections are held.

Sobhi’s decision was not considered governmental intervention, as FIFA regularly warns, because an inspection committee in September had found financial and administrative irregularities in the club.

While the Sports Ministry statement did not provide details on the committee’s findings, it did confirm there were financial irregularities and other violations. The findings allowed the ministry to refer the committee’s report to Egypt’s prosecution.

Accordingly, the directorate of Youth and Sports in Giza has been assigned by the ministry to supervise the Zamalek Club via the three-man interim committee for the time being.

Meanwhile, it does not look good for Mansour. After losing his parliamentary immunity, the daggers will be out by those seeking to get back at him for his missteps which include defamation. Many public figures and celebrities have been publicly insulted by Mansour in the past four years but could only sit idle because of his immunity.

Demands to lift his immunity started in 2016 but his fellow MPs and parliament’s Constitutional and Legislative Committee rejected all such calls.

In January, parliament denied three demands to strip Mansour of his immunity following what was described as malicious suspicion behind the complaints, and previous disagreements between him and the complainants.

Six months later, a parliamentary hearing to lift Mansour’s immunity was also denied. It was requested by President Mahmoud Al-Khatib of rival club Ahly. Al-Khatib presented an audio leak of Mansour insulting Al-Khatib and Ahly player Mahmoud Kahraba who had moved from Zamalek to Ahly. Mansour claimed his phone was hacked.

Even Egypt’s Prosecutor-General Hamada Al-Sawi could not win approval for his request to lift Mansour’s immunity. In August, Al-Sawi demanded lifting the immunity so that he could summon Mansour and deal with the lawsuits piling up on his desk. But Al-Sawi’s requests went nowhere, again in the belief that the accusations against Mansour were based on malicious rather than objective grounds.

But now, after Mansour had officially lost his parliamentary immunity on 9 January, observers expect a rash of lawsuits.

The majority of allegations against Mansour include insults, slander, and threats. Al-Khatib and Kahraba have slapped Mansour with pending lawsuits. There is one case regarding him threatening to kill former footballer Ahmed Hassan. Offending the Court of Cassation, slandering former president of Zamalek club Mahmoud Abbas, and insulting businessman Mohamed Al-Amin are others. There are also lawsuits presented by journalists.

Last week Mansour opened fire on the African Football Confederation after his team lost in the final of the African Champions League to Ahly. He criticised the match officials and thanked his players for their efforts, saying he believed the game was influenced by outside factors.

Mansour also faces more charges of corrupt sales and currency exchange operations outside the banking system to increase Zamalek Club’s profits.

Despite all what Mansour might be facing in the coming months, his many followers still believe in him and praise his accomplishments for Zamalek Club members and the establishment itself.

Meanwhile, Mansour needs to get ready for the hardships awaiting him.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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