Atletico Madrid to play in Cairo in solidarity with Arab revolutions: Club chief

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Tuesday 25 Oct 2011

Major Spanish football team celebrates centennial with Egypt's Zamalek in November; CEO sees 'great opportunity' to honour January 25 revolution and support Arab Spring

miguel angel gil marin (Photo: Reuters)

Atletico Madrid Chief Executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin has expressed his delight about participating in centennial celebrations for Egypt’s Zamalek club on 11 November, describing the event as a “great opportunity” to show solidarity with the popular uprisings currently sweeping the Arab world.

The Whites’ board announced recently that they had reached an agreement with the Spanish giants to participate in the club’s scheduled centenary festivities. This followed heavy criticism by Zamalek supporters for the team’s failure to arrange any friendly games with major European counterparts.

“It’s not an ordinary game. It comes at a wonderful time to show solidarity with Egyptians and their revolution, and the other revolutions in the Arab world,” Marin said at a Tuesday press conference in Cairo held to announce match arrangements. “We’re proud to take on Zamalek; we know it’s one of the biggest clubs in Africa.”

“The game will also be a good opportunity for us to celebrate the centenary year of our team’s jersey,” added Marin, who headed up the Atletico Madrid delegation that arrived in Cairo on Tuesday morning.

Zamalek’s decision to take on Atletico Madrid came in for some criticism, however, given that the board revealed that big teams – including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Inter Milan – had been ready to face them this year but a deal never materialised.

“The intense media presence at the press conference reflects confidence in the board’s performance. I’m very happy with our achievement,” said Zamalek club president Galal Ibrahim.

“Those who underestimate Atletico Madrid must know that they are the third most honoured Spanish club after Real Madrid and Barcelona,” Ibrahim added.

Zamalek, last season’s runner up for the Egyptian Premier league, hope to end their seven-year league drought this season under the new guidance of the former coach of Egypt, Hassan Shehata.

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