Saudi Arabia's Sela terminates sponsorship deal with Ahly after insults against Al-Sheikh

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 26 Sep 2018

File photo of Pyramids FC owner Turki Al-Sheikh (Ahram)

Saudi Arabia's sports marketing firm Sela has terminated its four-year sponsorship deal with Ahly in protest at what it described the club's inaction over the insults thrown at Saudi sports chief Turki Al-Sheikh by the fans of the popular Egyptian club.

The hardcore supporters, angry at the stern criticism directed at Ahly's administration by Al-Sheikh, hurled obscenities against the head of Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority during an African Champions League game against Guinea's Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.

Ahly wrapped up a record LE500 million ($28 million) sponsorship deal with Sela last June, extending their partnership with the Saudi firm for four years.

A month later, reports suggested that Sela would annul its agreement with Ahly after Al-Sheikh stepped down as the honorary president of the club, citing disagreements with chairman Mahmoud El-Khatib over the football team's policy in the transfer market.

However, Sela rubbished the reports at the time, only to announce the termination of the deal in a Wednesday statement.

"Sela would like to announce the halting of all of its investments in Egypt and Ahly club as a result of the Ahly fans' abuse towards his Excellency Turki Al-Sheikh, who is considered one of the icons of Arab Sports," the company said.

"Sela was waiting for a firm stance from the management of Ahly … but was surprised by the silence and the failure to take any action to reject such behavior, which does not represent the brotherly Egyptian people and does not reflect the ethics of their sons."

Al-Sheikh spent big after buying Egyptian Premier League side Al-Assiouty and re-naming it Pyramids FC in the summer, making some record signings as he sought to assemble a title-challenging club and dethrone Ahly, winners of the past three editions of the premier domestic competition.

However, Pyramids FC said recently that Al-Sheikh had decided to end his investments in Egyptian football, an announcement that was not confirmed by the 37-year-old.

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