Revealed: Celebrity lineup who scored an Egypt own goal

In a publicity stunt before the match, state-owned telecoms company WE flew the celebrities to the team’s hotel in Saint Petersburg.
Updated 23 June 2018
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Revealed: Celebrity lineup who scored an Egypt own goal

  • The debacle has infuriated ordinary fans who were hoping the World Cup would provide them with some much-needed joy amid the harsh austerity program
  • Before the World Cup, Egypt were tipped to qualify from a group that also includes Uruguay and Saudi Arabia

CAIRO: When a gaggle of Egyptian celebrities, including an outspoken belly dancer, visited the national football team’s hotel ahead of a crunch World Cup match this week, fans back home feared the worst.

Similar visits before big games in the past had led to disappointing results on the pitch, and so it proved yet again. This time Egypt were humbled 3-1 by the host nation Russia — a defeat that sent them crashing out of the tournament.

Before the World Cup, Egypt were tipped to qualify from a group that also includes Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. But after losing 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening fixture, they needed to get something out of their second game on Tuesday.

In a publicity stunt before the match, state-owned telecoms company WE flew the celebrities to the team’s hotel in Saint Petersburg. Among those who made the trip were actors Sherif Mounir and Ahmed Rizk, actress Bosy Shalaby and belly dancer Fifi Abdou, who made headlines recently saying she supported fuel hikes as part of the government’s austerity measures.

The debacle has infuriated ordinary fans who were hoping the World Cup would provide them with some much-needed joy amid the harsh austerity program that has left many people in Cairo struggling to make ends meet.

With their dreams of football glory in tatters, supporters have blamed the publicity-hungry celebrities as well as the underperforming players.

“The scene at the hotel was horrible. It’s true that none of the Egypt players came down to meet them, but their presence in such large numbers was a distraction,” said Ramy Gamal, 30, who was at the hotel at the time.

“All they care about is taking pictures and posting them on social media; they are not even interested in football. We want real fans to get behind the team, not actors and singers.”

Mahmoud El-Hussein, a 47-year-old fan, said: “What WE did was a provocation to all Egyptians. At a time of economic struggle, we see a state-owned company organize a trip for rich people who can afford a hundred trips like that.”


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.