Egypt FA board cannot resign while facing accusations of financial violation: Abo Rida

After denying all allegations pointed at the same during Wednesday's presser, the Egyptian FA promises another presser to 'reveal further investigations'

Eslam Omar , Wednesday 27 Jun 2018,
Hani Abo Rida
Hani Abo Rida (Photo: Still photo taken from TV)

Egyptian Football Association (EFA) chairman Hani Abo Rida said during a press conference on Wednesday that the EFA board cannot resign over the 2018 World Cup failure while they face accusations of financial violations.

Abo Rida made the comments in response to a question by a reporter during the press conference, which was held in Cairo to wrap up the Pharaohs' participation at the world's most prestigious football tournament.

The board is facing heavy criticism after the humble performance by the Pharaohs during their first appearance at the World Cup in 28 years, where they lost their three group stage games, landing in bottom place of their group.

"The Egyptian Football Association does not cost the country's budget a penny. We are self-funded by sponsorship, among other sources, and we even spend in community service, including developing local hospitals," Abou-Reida explained.

"The EFA did not bear any of the cost of the Egyptian team's stay in Russia, and all the talk that a certain country paid our accommodation is inappropriate," Abo Rida said.

Both the government, represented by Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy, and parliament will investigate what the House's sports committee described as a "humiliating exit" and "disgraceful appearance" at the World Cup.

The investigation will include alleged "serious violations" including illicit gains and a lack of "transparency of the ticketing system and sponsorship deals."

In response to a question by a reporter, who implied that the EFA is profiting from advertising deals with the company Presentation, which sponsors the national football team, Abo Rida said that "Presentation is a state-owned company" in an attempt to shift responsibilty away from the EFA.  

Presentation Sports, the most prominent sports marketing company in Egypt, won a sponsorship contract for the national team in July 2017 for five years.

A 51 percent majority share in the company was acquired in June 2016 by the Egyptian Media Company (EMC), which was owned at the time by Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima, who in 2017 sold his shares to Eagle Capital, whose CEO is ex-Minister of Investment Dalia Khorshid.

Among the inquiries into violations is Liverpool star Mohamed Salah's earlier crisis with the association, which used his image on the team's plane without authorization, as well as the presence of a cheering delegation of dozens of local Egyptian celebrities at the World Cup.

Magdi Abdel-Ghani angrily interrupts presser

Egypt FA member Magdy Abdelghany
Egypt FA member Magdy Abdelghany

While the EFA head addressed parliament's sports committee's request to investigate accusations of violations by EFA board member Magdi Abdel-Ghani, the latter angrily interrupted the presser to defend himself.

“Abu Rida's decision to dismiss me from the mission was not correct and came at an inappropriate time,” Abdel-Ghani shouted during the presser, referring to his temporary dismissal from joining Egypt's World Cup mission in Russia.

"Some accuse me of ‘stealing’ the national football team kits. This is must be answered. I should have held a press conference earlier to clear up the matter."

"I did nothing that deserves punishment," he told Abu Rida, who denied personally directing any accusations against Abdel-Ghani.

“I did not dismiss Abdel-Ghani from the mission, so he travelled to Russia,” Abo Rida said.

"Abdel-Ghani only committed a procedural mistake, and was never dismissed from the World Cup mission. He has just did not present documents proving that he received the kit allocations on time, which is only considered a procedural violation. I have never accused him of financial violations," he insisted.

Abo Rida confirmed that the association will hold another press conference within a week to reveal the results of investigations and decisions.

Egypt's performance at 2018 World Cup

Egypt's Mohamed Salah and team mates look dejected (Photo: REUTERS)

Backed by state authorities, investors and the public, the national team failed to meet the high expectations of the football-obsessed country after failing to fulfil the target they themselves had announced.

After finally qualifying for the world's most prestigious football event after a 28-year absence, the team, under the helm of Abo Rida, had frequently stated that their target at the World Cup was to reach the knock out stage.

Unfortunately, the nation was shocked by a toothless defensive appearance of their over-estimated team, who was carried on the injured shoulder of Salah.

However, the team, who were once among FIFA's top ranking teams during Hassan Shehata's era, broke an international record after 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary became the oldest player to ever perform at the World Cup.

Ironically, another record was broken after Salah became Egypt's top scorer at the competition with two goals, one more than Magdi Abdel-Ghani, who scored the last Egyptian goal at the World Cup in 1990.

Egypt, currently ranked 45th globally, lost 1-0 against Uruguay in the opener before being stunned by 70th Russia 3-1 before totally collapsing against 67th Saudi Arabia to earn bottom place at the group A table.

(For more sports news and updates and a special World Cup 2018 coverage, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

Additional reporting Hana Afifi and Mahmoud Abdel Aziz 

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