'Life ban' call over racial abuse of Mohamed Salah

Salah was taunted during Liverpool's 1-1 draw at West Ham. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019

'Life ban' call over racial abuse of Mohamed Salah

  • Police given evidence after an investigation into Islamophobic abuse shouted at Egyptian ace.
  • Football Against Racism in Europe call for life bans for those found guilty of racial abuse.

LONDON: West Ham United have handed evidence to the police after completing an investigation into Islamophobic abuse shouted at Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah during their Premier League clash at the London Stadium
on Monday.
A video emerged on social media in which audible racial slurs were directed at the Egypt and Reds star man as he was taking a corner. The match finished in a 1-1 draw.
The user who posted the video on Twitter said: “I went to watch West Ham vs Liverpool and I was disgusted by what I was hearing. People like this deserve no place in our society let alone football matches.”
The Metropolitan Police had said that officers were in the process of reviewing the footage and West Ham have now revealed that they have given all of their evidence to the police.
Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini has demanded a life ban for the culprits, and a West Ham statement said: “After a thorough and immediate investigation following the abhorrent racist abuse aimed at Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah on Monday night, West Ham United can confirm that it has handed evidence to the Metropolitan Police.
“The Club is unequivocal in its stance — such abuse will not be tolerated. There is no place or excuse for this kind of behavior.”
While there have undoubtedly been great strides taken in football to tackle racist abuse from the stands, the sorry Salah abuse follows allegations of discriminatory chanting by Chelsea and Millwall supporters in recent weeks.
Piara Powar, the executive director of anti-discrimination charity FARE ((Football Against Racism in Europe), described the number of recent incidents of reported racism as “alarming”, and added that closing stadiums may be the only logical next step in combating abuse.
“The number and frequency of recent incidents in England is quite alarming,” Powar said. “Football seems to have a rump of fans who have trouble accepting the diversity of our country. I also think it points to the divisions that have opened up in the UK since Brexit.
“I think the FA must get a grip on the problem,” Powar added. “They do a lot of good work, but they should use the powers they have to close stadiums, and ban and fine clubs. The FA regulations allow for it, but the measures are rarely used.”
Since his move to Liverpool Salah has been a transformative figure, breaking down barriers. Go to Anfield and, once the rousing rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has died down, it is likely you will next hear the Liverpool fans’ hymn to Salah. Sung to the tune of “Good Enough” by Britpop band Dodgy, it goes like this: “If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim, too.” That he has been welcomed with open arms and lauded — albeit in a city with a tradition of tolerance — is to be applauded, not least at a time when Islamaphobic attacks in the UK are on the rise.
Salah was last year named PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year after he scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season.
The Egyptian ace will be key in the Reds’ search for their first league title since 1990, Liverpool face Bournemouth at home today.

Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019

Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”