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.”


France’s Notre Dame Cathedral to be rebuilt without modern touches

Updated 10 July 2020

France’s Notre Dame Cathedral to be rebuilt without modern touches

  • Plan includes recreating the 19th century spire designed by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc

PARIS: Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt just the way it stood before last year’s devastating fire.
No swimming pool or organic garden on the roof of the medieval Paris monument, or contemporary glass spire, or other modern twists. And to stay historically accurate, it will again be built with potentially toxic lead.
That’s the verdict reached by French President Emmanuel Macron, the cathedral’s present-day architects and the general in charge of the colossal reconstruction project for one of the world’s most treasured landmarks.
Macron, who wants Notre Dame reopened in time for the 2024 Olympics, had initially pushed for a contemporary touch atop the cathedral, prompting eye-catching proposals from architects around the world.
But Macron came around to the traditionalists’ argument, and approved reconstruction plans for the 12th century monument that were presented Thursday, according to a statement from the state agency overseeing the project.
The plan includes recreating the 19th century spire designed by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc that collapsed in the fire and “favors fidelity to the monument’s form and a restoration of the cathedral in its latest state,” the statement said.
That means how Notre Dame was on the afternoon of April 15, 2019, before the fire broke out, consumed the roof and threatened the rose-windowed twin towers that keep the cathedral upright.
More than a year later, the structure remains unstable. It took nearly a year to clear out dangerous lead residue released in the fire and to get to the point where workers could start removing scaffolding that had been in place for a previous renovation effort. Actual reconstruction won’t start until next year.
The reconstruction plan presented Thursday says the project will replicate original materials “to guarantee the authenticity, harmony and coherence of this masterpiece of Gothic art.”
Those materials included tons of lead, which is raising concerns among health and environmental groups. Lead particles released during the fire forced schools in the area to close and prompted a lengthy, painstaking cleanup effort of the cathedral’s historic neighborhood on an island in the center of Paris.