Zamalek say Egyptian FA sanctions for Al Ahly no-show are ‘illegal’

Zamalek chairman Mortada Mansour

Sanctions imposed by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) against Zamalek for failing to play in the Cairo derby are ‘illegal’, the club’s president has said.

On Wednesday the EFA punished Zamalek for their failure to play against Al Ahly two days earlier., deciding not only that Zamalek should lose the match 2-0, but that they be deducted a further three points and pay a financial fine as well.

Zamalek’s claims that traffic and bad weather had prevented them from reaching the Cairo International Stadium were rejected by the EFA.

“These punishments from the EFA are valueless for me and I refuse all of them,” Zamalek president Mortada Mansour told the club’s television channel.

“In my opnion the EFA doesn’t have the regulations to back these punishments.

“I’m wondering how they can punish Zamalek two days before an important match against Esperance in the African Champions League, what do they want to do to our Club?!”

He added that he is prepared to go to football’s world governing body, Fifa, over the issue.

It is the latest twist in a controversial week for Zamalek and Mansour, which began last Thursday with a win in the Egyptian Super Cup over Al Ahly in the UAE.

The victory – on penalties, following a goalless draw – was marred by fighting and scuffles between the players and coaching staff after the final whistle.

The EFA reacted by handing out fines to those involved as well as to Mansour, despite him not actually attending the match.

The explanation given by the football association was that Mansour was fined because of comments he made about the EFA in a television interview.

Those sanctions were followed on Saturday by an announcement by Zamalek on the club’s website, outlining that they would be boycotting the rest of the league campaign.

However, it seemed the club were having second thoughts about that withdrawal, and reportedly agreed to send at least a youth team to play Al Ahly on Monday.

It is now unclear whether Zamalek will indeed honour the rest of the Egyptian season, with Mansour not addressing the issue today.

Al Ahly players warm up in an empty stadium as they wait for their opposition to turn up

Zamalek do not have a league match now until 12 March when they face Al Ittihad. However they do play in the quarter-finals of the African Champions League on Friday against reigning champions Esperance of Tunisia.

The EFA’s confirmation of the 2-0 for Al Ahly means they have now won their first 16 matches of the season and top the table with a maximum 48 points.

Zamalek are in third place with 31 points at the moment, just one behind Arab Contractors (Al Mokawloon).

However if the additional three points deduction is factored in they would be fourth on 28 points behind Pyramids, with only the top two qualifying or next year’s Champions League.

Mansour’s presidency has been littered with controversial incidents since he was elected in 2014, not least having appointed at least 20 coaches in that time.

He was banned for a year in September 2018 by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) following comments he made about leading Caf officials.

That ban was later reduced after talks with Caf and its president Ahmad as he was allowed to attend the second leg of last May’s Confederation Cup final as Zamalek beat Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane on penalties.

It is not the first time Zamalek have quit the Egyptian league after they made a similar announcement in 2015 in protest over what the club called poor refereeing however that boycott that was reversed less than a day later.