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

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.”


Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

Updated 29 May 2020

Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

  • Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones
  • India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday,

NEW DELHI: Monkeys mobbed an Indian health worker and made off with coronavirus test blood samples, spreading fears that the stealing simians could spread the pandemic in the local area.
Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones.
After making off with the three samples earlier this week in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi, the monkeys scampered up nearby trees and one then tried to chew its plunder.
The sample boxes were later recovered and had not been damaged, Meerut Medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj said on Friday, after footage of the encounter went viral on social media.
“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said.
He added that the three people whose samples were stolen were retested for the virus.
Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there is no confirmation that the disease can then be passed on to humans.
India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday, with 175 new fatalities in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to official data.
India, home to some of the world’s most packed cities and a creaking health care system, is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days.
In many rural areas, farmers lose crops to monkey populations and have demanded local governments’ intervention to check their populations.
City authorities in New Delhi have famously used long-tailed langur monkeys to fight and scare away smaller primates from around the Indian Parliament.