Footballer Zidan's prison visit to Alaa Mubarak draws Egypt fans' ire

Eslam Omar, Tuesday 3 Jul 2012

Controversial Egypt striker Mohamed Zidan outrages football fans - yet again - by visiting imprisoned son of Egypt's ousted dictator; Zidan, for his part, says visit never happened

Zidan and Alaa
Egypt's player Mohamed Zidan and Alaa Mubrak

Egyptian fans expressed anger with controversial striker Mohamed Zidan after he paid a visit this week to Alaa Mubarak, son of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, in prison.

Security sources revealed to Egypt's Middle East News Agency (MENA) on Monday that Zidan – accompanied by Alaa’s wife, Haidy Rasekh, and her son – had visited Alaa in Egypt's infamous Tora Prison.

"This is the first time for a non-family member to visit Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, since their arrival to Tora in April 2011," MENA quoted the security source as saying.

Mubarak's sons are currently in custody while being investigated for stock market fraud. On 2 June, Gamal and Alaa were both acquitted of corruption charges.

Their father received a life sentence last month for his role in the killing of unarmed protesters at the height of last year's Tahrir Square uprising.

Zidan was quoted by Al-Ahram's Arabic-language website as saying: 'I never visited Tora Prison. I'm astonished by the false reports, as I'm currently staying in a hotel in Dubai.'

Zidan, a former Mainz, Hamburg and Broussia-Dortmund forward, lost considerable popularity following last year's revolution when he publicly declared his support for the embattled Mubarak regime.

Last week, the 30-year-old player was banned from playing football in Egypt for life by the Egyptian Football Association. The decision followed Zidan's refusal to join Egypt's national squad in a crucial game against Central Africa. Instead, the player chose to join a Chinese football club, which reportedly made him a generous offer for his services.

Egypt went on to draw with Central Africa 1-1, thus failing to qualify for the African Championship for the second time in a row due to a 2-3 loss in the home game in Cairo two weeks ago.

Only minutes after news of his Tora visit broke, Egyptians expressed their anger with Zidan, who had at one time enjoyed considerable popularity, especially in light of the role he played in clinching the Africa Cup of Nations trio.

Here's what some fans had to say on social-media platforms Twitter and Facebook:

"Why did Zidan go with Alaa’s wife? Has he been adopted by Mubarak?"

"So he dropped the national team for playing in Tora club. cool!"

"The Port Said-born player always causes controversy. I still remember when he celebrated his goal with Mainz the day after the Port Said disaster, with no sympathy for the martyrs."

"I used to love Zidan very much, but now…"

"He kissed Mubarak's hand before, no surprise! But does he kiss Alaa’s hand too?"

"Mr. Tattoo is still messing up!"

"Zidan, how many times must we blacklist you?"

"Zidan, why do you insist on being such an …"

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