Kuwaiti official praises Egypt great Abou-Treika for rejecting money to play in friendly

Mahmoud Elassal , Sunday 20 Dec 2015

The Egyptian star refused to receive money for playing in the Football Champions Tour team against a Kuwaiti all-star team, expressing support for Kuwait in its dispute with FIFA

Mohamed Aboutrika
Former Egypt and Ahly player Mohamed Abou-Treika gestures to cheering fans after he was substituted during their African Champions League final soccer match against South Africa's Orlando Pirates at the Arab Contractors Stadium in Cairo, November 10, 2013 (Reuters)

Former Egypt and Ahly star Mohamed Abou-Treika is being widely acclaimed for refusing to be paid for his participation with former world stars in a friendly game in Kuwait. 

The 36-year-old took part in the Football Champions Tour team against a Kuwaiti all-star team Friday in the opening ceremony of Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait.

He played alongside world top superstar players such as David Beckham, Luis Figo, Deco, David James, Alessandro Nesta, Michel Salgado and Andriy Shevchenko.

"All the players have been paid except Abou-Treika, who refused to be paid in support of Kuwait," ceremony organising committee member Khaled Al-Rodan told a television programme late Saturday.

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) both suspended Kuwait because of alleged government interference in the Gulf state's sports scene.

Kuwait on Friday staged the game despite the suspension. A number of currently active players like former England midfielder Steven Gerrard and Italy's Andrea Pirlo dropped plans to play in the game after being warned by FIFA.

The world body had also written to the Kuwait Football Association warning that the match needed FIFA approval.

The ceremony organising committee reportedly offered the players 50,000 Euros each for their participation in the game, but Abou-Treika, whose assets are frozen in Egypt over alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, refused to receive the money. 

"When I asked the Egyptian star to take part in the game he said that, 'I know Kuwait was unjustly suspended and I need to support Kuwait'," Al-Rodan added.

"He also said he was honoured to play in the match."

Abou-Treika hung up his boots in late 2013 after leading Egypt’s most successful club Ahly to a host of domestic and continental trophies, earning cult status among the club's faithful. He was also instrumental in helping Egypt win two African Cup of Nations titles in 2006 and 2008.

"I informed the Kuwaiti political authority about Abou-Treika's situation and they admired it as Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah invited the Egyptian star to take photo with him and to thank him for his support," Al-Rodan said.   

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah led the country's leadership and top officials to the colourful ceremony that included a musical concert by top Gulf singers and spectacular fireworks and laser displays that lit the skies over the oval-shaped stadium.

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