Egyptians cry foul over bad sportsmanship?
When Egypt’s Mo Salah stepped up to take his penalty in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers at a packed Diamniadio Olympic Stadium in Senegal, fans shone laser lights into his eyes hoping to put him off. He blasted the ball over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, the Senegal captain and Salah’s Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, converted his spot-kick, which ultimately booked his country a place at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Notably, there have been calls from both the Egyptian Football Association and the fans to have the Senegal fans’ unsportsmanlike conduct investigated by football’s governing body, FIFA. An Instagram statement from the Egyptian Football Association thus, read: “The Egyptian team was subjected to racism as crowds held up offensive banners in the stands, particularly against team captain Mohammed Salah.”
While bad sportsmanship should be discouraged on all fronts, Egypt and good sportsmanship certainly can’t be in the same sentence; that is, they should be the last ones to cry foul over unsportsmanlike conduct. If anything, they were served a taste of their own medicine.
Many African clubs that have had to face Egyptian clubs in continental competitions in the knockout stages were, at some point during those games, they are subjected to this hostile treatment.
To put this into perspective, in their 2013 Champions League final encounter with the South African side Orlando Pirates in Cairo, Al-Ahly’s fans, for a better part of the game, shone lights into the face of the opposition goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa.
If the Egyptians couldn’t see anything wrong in their conduct then, why should the Senegal fans’ conduct be investigated now? Before pointing fingers at anyone, it’s safe to say that the Egyptians need to have a long serious look at themselves in the mirror.
By Manare Matabola, Rheinland farm, Polokwane