Mon | Nov 23, 2020

Salah helps Warda get reinstated in Egypt’s team

Published:Saturday | June 29, 2019 | 12:20 AM
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah reacts after he scored during the group A match between Egypt and DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on Wednesday.
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah reacts after he scored during the group A match between Egypt and DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on Wednesday.

Giro, Egypt (AP):

Mohamed Salah’s intervention helped get Amr Warda back on the Egyptian national team despite accusations that he had sent lewd messages to two women.

Warda was originally expelled from the team at the African Cup of Nations, but Egyptian football federation president Hany Abou Rida reversed the decision yesterday following a plea from Salah and other teammates, and a meeting with the national team that was attended by the country’s minister of sports on Thursday.

“During the meeting, (Abou Rida) praised players for their sense of solidarity, their desire to see their teammate pardoned, to end his suspension, and also for their respect of any decision made by the EFA in this regard,” the federation wrote on its website. “Hence, he decided to alleviate the sanction by suspending the player only until the end of the group stage.”

Egypt, who have already qualified for the knockout stage after beating Congo on Wednesday, have only one match left to play in the group stage. The game against Uganda will be played tomorrow.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian federation issued a brief statement saying Abou Rida had decided to send Warda home to maintain “discipline, commitment and focus” in the squad. The decision came after videos emerged of women alleging that Warda verbally harassed them.

PUBLIC APOLOGY

Warda initially denied the allegations, but he soon posted a video on his Facebook page in which he apologised to his family, teammates and coaches.

“I promise you that everything will be fine and that I won’t do anything that would be upsetting to anyone,” the 25-year-old player said.

Salah condemned Warda’s behavior on Twitter but said he should be given “a second chance”.

“Women must be treated with the utmost respect. ‘No’ means ‘no.’ Those things are and must remain sacred,” the Liverpool forward wrote on Thursday. “I also believe that many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn’t be sent straight to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out.

“We need to believe in second chances ... we need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer.”

Egypt captain Ahmed el-Mohamady also showed solidarity with Warda. After scoring against Congo on Wednesday, El-Mohamady celebrated his goal by making a ‘22’ sign with his fingers in reference to his teammate’s shirt number.

However, Salah’s comments, in particular, elicited the ire of many of his fans on social media and reignited the debate on Egyptian society’s tolerance of injustice against women.