Zamalek football director under fire for ‘inflammatory comments’

Mahmoud Mohamed, Sunday 3 Apr 2011

Zamalek football director Ibrahim Hassan is accused by the media of triggering the riots which forced the cancellation of the club's Champions League match with Club Africain

Ibrahim Hassan
Ibrahim Hassan comes in for fierce criticism following riots

Zamalek football director Ibrahim Hassan has come in for heavy criticism from the Egyptian media for comments he made before the team’s highly-charged Champions League clash at home to Tunisia’s Club Africain.

Hassan, the twin brother of head coach Hossam, was furious following the first-leg match which Africain won 4-2 after a fan invaded the pitch.

“I ask Zamalek’s supporters to invade the Cairo Stadium (in the second leg),” he said in a television interview last month.

His request was accepted by Zamalek’s die-hard fans.

In the dying minutes of the second leg, thousands of supporters invaded the pitch and attacked Club Africain players, some of whom were injured.

Football analysts said Hassan was partially to blame for the unfortunate incident which could have dire consequences for Egyptian football.

“We all heard his comments and I believe this is not acceptable,” pundit Hassan Al-Mestekawy said.

“His efforts to protect the Tunisian team following the riots are appreciated but such comments only worsen things.”

Many users on Facebook also called for the sacking of Hossam and Ibrahim, blaming them for the rising tensions in Egyptian football between rival fans.

Ibrahim, who is known for his fiery temper, said he was misinterpreted by media.

“I did not say those comments. If I said so, I would have not have rushed onto the pitch to protect Africain players. This corrupt media is the cause of all that,” he said.

Ibrahim Hassan is no stranger to controversy, having been banned for five years in late 2008 for assaulting a referee and making obscene gestures to the crowd during a regional game between Egyptian club Masry and Algeria’s JSM Bejaia.

The ban was revoked two years later but Hassan was still blamed for igniting tension between Egypt and Algeria, who were later involved in another dispute following a World Cup qualifier.

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