Ahmed El-Merghany (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egyptian club Wadi Degla denounced the recent attacks on their player Ahmed El-Merghany, denying parting ways with the midfielder after his recent public criticism of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
On Friday night, the player said on TV that the club decided to offload him after his recent political comments.
“El-Merghany used to stir up controversy with his comments and we warned him that could be negative not just for him but also for the club,” Wadi Degla said in a long statement on Sunday.
“The club previously rebuked its former coach Hisham Zakaria for criticising the Muslim Brotherhood in the media as we have been against mixing politics with sport since 2012.
“The player intentionally spoke again about politics ahead of our last match with Ahly, so he was omitted from the squad and suspended until the end of the season without any prejudice to his current contract that runs until the season’s end.
“The player will be punished according to both the club’s disciplinary system and his contract and he will get his financial dues on time,” the statement added.
El-Merghany, a former Zamalek player, vented his anger on Egypt’s president El-Sisi after Wednesday's terrorist attack that hit two cities in North Sinai, leaving 21 army personnel and and more than 100 assailants killed, according to official army statistics.
The 27-year-old player described El-Sisi as a "failure" following the attacks.
On Friday night, El-Merghany appeared on a show on Dream TV in which he was severely attacked by Zamalek chairman Mortada Mansour and Egyptian Football Association's spokesman Azmy Megahed.
Mansour, an outspoken lawyer, launched a scathing attack against El-Merghany describing him as a "bawab" (doorman) in an implicit reference to his dark skin.
Mansour's remarks were deemed racist and derogatory by Aswan's General Nubian Union, a group that promotes the rights of Nubians who often complain of marginalisation by the central government.
Immediately after the show, some social media users created a Twitter hashtag in Arabic that translates to 'support El-Mergahny' to assure that he has the right to express his opinion.
“The club condemns and denounces the insults subjected recently to the player who is responsible for the whole situation,” Wadi Degla’s statement explained.
“Also El-Merghany and those who spread rumours are responsible for the insults we received over our alleged offloading of the player because he criticised the president while our main problem was with him speaking about politics.
“Don’t mix sport with politics, sports with religion or religion with politics,” the statement concluded.
Wadi Degla currently lie in eighth place in the Egyptian league table with 50 points, 27 behind leaders Zamalek.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)