Mortada Mansour (Photo: Reuters)
Zamalek president Mortada Mansour said he is not to blame for last Sunday’s football disaster, refuting reports that he was asked to resign after 20 fans were killed ahead of a league game.
The Egyptian Premier League was suspended indefinitely in the wake of the Air Defence Stadium disaster, which occurred when security forces fired tear gas to disperse the Zamalek supporters who wanted to attend a match against ENPPI at Cairo’s Air Defence Stadium.
"I am not responsible for the disaster; there are attempts to defame me," Mortada Mansour said during a Saturday news conference, which was held to unveil new coach Jesualdo Ferreira.
"I got 5,000 invitations for the match and I distributed them for free. Ultras White Knights [Zamalek's hardcore fan group] and the Muslim brotherhood are the ones to blame.
"The entrance of the fans is not my responsibility and the match officials didn't inform me that there were any deaths," he added.
Police claim the fans died due to a stampede, while the Zamalek Ultras White Knights said a criminal plot was pre-planned, blaming new security procedures that included a 'metal cage' at the stadium gates.
Investigations are still ongoing.
Zamalek-ENPPI match was open to the public, unlike most other games between Egyptian clubs since stadium riots in Port Said in 2012 left 72 people dead in the country's worst-ever sport disaster.
"I’ve recently received a lot of death threats from Daesh [Islamic State] but I am determined to continue my mission with Zamalek," said Mortada.
"I wasn't summoned for any investigations. I had a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab on Monday to discuss compensations for the families of the victims, and he didn't ask me to resign."
Mahlab said on Friday that the Egyptian Premier League will resume in two weeks, albeit behind closed doors.
"The league must be resumed for the sake of the whole country, but at the same time we must firmly deal with saboteurs," said the Zamalek president.
Mansour attacks Omar Gaber
Zamalek fan favourite player Omar Gaber, who made headlines after declining to play against ENPPI, has been suspended pending an inquiry into his conduct by the management.
The 23-year-old midfielder refused to take part in the game after he was informed that fans had died.
"Gaber escaped from the ENPPI clash. I was standing next to him and he didn't tell me aboutany deaths," Mansour said.
"Gaber warmed up for the match with his teammates but eventually rejected to play. He wanted to steal the show at the expense of the victims’ blood."
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