To avoid waving 'Rabaa' sign, football referee uses both hands to signal stoppage time

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 1 Jan 2014

An Egyptian football referee avoided waving the 'Rabaa' sign by gesticulating with both hands to signal that four minutes of time added on would be played in a domestic league game

A snapshot of the referee while using his both hands to signal stoppage time during an Egyptian Premier League game

An Egyptian football referee was ready to signal a four-minute stoppage time during a domestic league game, only to remember that it carries an extra significance which may land him in hot water.

Atef El-Afi, who was refereeing an Egyptian league game between Gouna and El-Entag El-Harby, thought twice about how to signal that four minutes of time added on would be played.

He eventually decided to use both hands to do so, with each making a two-fingered sign.

He sought to avoid waving the "Rabaa sign", a hand salute representing a protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, which was violently dispersed by the authorities in mid-August.

The Rabaa sign has been consistently used by Islamist demonstrators since then.

Authorities deem the sign a symbol which incites violence.

"There is no place for politics in football. I just didn't want to be misunderstood," El-Afi told Egyptian sports website FilGoal.

"None of the Egyptian Football Association officials asked us [referees] to make any certain signs. We just want to avoid using anything that might be interpreted as political signs."

Two sportsmen stirred controversy when they waved the Rabaa sign.

Ahly striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher was suspended by the club before being loaned out to a Libyan side after making the four-fingered hand signal during the African Champions League final against South Africa's Orlando Pirates in November.

Egypt Kung fu player Mohamed Youssef was also banned for one year after making the same sign after winning the gold medal in a competition in Russia.

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