Egyptian football 'dying' as players are dropped or leave

Karim Farouk, Monday 2 Apr 2012

Ghazl El-Mahalla offloads half of its squad because of lack of income, and many other clubs are struggling to pay salaries following the cancellation of the league

Ghazl El-Mahalla
Ghazl El-Mahalla team

The board of Delta-based club Ghazl El-Mahalla have decided to release 15 players, to decrease their expenses following the Egyptian Football Association's (EFA) decision to cancel this season's league competition, and the lack of commitments until the beginning of the new season.

"We need to build a more competitive side and we need to a have a stronger squad for the upcoming season. This season is over and it isn't clear yet if we will play any sort of matches until June so we decided to start the procedure right away," Coach Ibrahim Youssef was quoted as saying on Ahram Sport.

All local competitions have been suspended in Egypt since the Port Said disaster in February, which left 74 dead and hundreds of people injured as a result of clashes following a game between Masry and Ahly.

The EFA cancelled this season's football activities in March and said it would hold a friendly tournament and the Egypt Cup in order to keep football alive, but until now security concerns have shelved the plan.

"The players received their payments and are now free to leave. The others have been given a long rest before resuming training," Youssef added.

Exodus of players

FIFA have ordered the club to maintain their financial obligation towards the players, who must respect their contractual engagements even in the case of league cancelation.

However many clubs have been trying to negotiate contract reductions as they have no income at the moment. Ittihad of Alexandria, Ismaily and even the Cairo giants Ahly and Zamalek are struggling with cash-flow to pay their players and staff.

On the other hand, most of the foreign players in Egypt are also looking for new offers, claiming that there is very little prospect in Egyptian football for the next few years.

Among many examples, Dakhleya put their Guinean striker Lama Kone on the transfer list; Smouha's Ghanaian forward Samuel Affum revealed that he hopes he will find a place where he can play regular football; and Iraq's Mostafa Karim is in talks with Ittihad's board to get a financial settlement and find a new club.

Ahly's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz has claimed that "Egyptian football is dying"  and that people must act quickly to save it before it becomes a very long shot for many years to come.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter: @AO Sports)

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