Zamalek's board suspended over financial irregularities; interim committee to take over

Hatem Maher , Sunday 29 Nov 2020

Zamalek will be led by an interim committee after chairman Mortada Mansour and his entire board of directors were suspended on Sunday

Mortada Mansour
File photo of Mortada Mansour

The days of Mortada Mansour as Zamalek's chairman might be over after his entire board was suspended by Egypt's sports ministry over financial irregularities, with an interim committee set to take over until the eccentric lawyer is investigated.

The sports ministry confirmed on Sunday widespread speculation that Mansour, an acid-tongued chairman who is known for his wild attacks on opponents and critics, would be relieved of his duties.

"The ministry has decided to refer the financial violations mentioned in its report to the Public Prosecution," it said in a statement.

"It also decided to suspended Zamalek club's board of directors … on a temporary basis until the conclusion of the Public Prosecution's investigations ... or until the legal period prescribed by law for the board of directors expires, whichever is earlier."

The ministry did not specify the financial irregularities that had cost Mansour his place, but recent reports said the charges he might face include squandering public funds.

Zamalek's board had previously come under investigation for using a private bank account to manage its financial affairs after the club's account was frozen due to arrears owed to several entities and businessman Mamdouh Abbas, a former Zamalek chairman.

Cairo's popular club, which is owned by the state, is under the oversight of the sports ministry.

Mansour has drawn the ire of many by launching wild outbursts on anyone who dared to question his leadership of Zamalek or criticise his conduct.

Among those who filed numerous legal complaints against him was Ahly chairman Mahmoud El-Khatib, a club icon who is very popular with the Red Devils' faithful.

Mansour, who was elected as Zamalek chairman in 2014 before winning another term in 2017, is credited by many club supporters for steadying the ship after a period of administrative instability, ensuring a cash flow that helped the football team strengthen its squad and compete with Ahly for honours.

Although Zamalek won some titles, including the Egyptian Premier League for the first time in 11 years in 2015, his habit of hiring and firing managers in rapid succession did not go down well with many fans as it derailed their bid to outshine Ahly.

Portuguese boss Jesualdo Ferreira left Zamalek shortly after guiding them to a rare domestic double five years ago after growing increasingly frustrated with Mansour's constant attacks on him, while Swiss Christian Gross was dismissed last year after delivering the Confederation Cup title and with the White Knights on the brink of a league triumph.

In between, several managers proved unsuccessful, with Zamalek losing five straight league titles to arch foes Ahly.

Zamalek lost 2-1 to Ahly in a dramatic African Champions League final on Friday, thanks to a late winner from playmaker Magdi Afsha. Both sides are still in the Egypt Cup semis this season.

The sports ministry said that Ahmed Bakri, a judge at the Cairo Court of Appeals, would head the new interim committee, which also includes two former Zamalek football stars in Ayman Younes and Ismail Youssef.

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