By Mahmoud Mourad
Egypt’s 1-0 loss to South Africa on Saturday led to an immediate purge of Egyptian football officials, taking the gloss off a high-prestige event which Egypt volunteered to host at short notice after Cameroon was stripped of the competition.
“This timing needs discipline that will be found only in the army,” Farouk Gaafar, who led the Pharaohs in 1996-1997, told a talk show on Sunday evening.
Asked by the presenter whether a military official should preside over the football federation, Gafaar said; “Of course”, adding that the country’s soccer administration needed “an iron fist” to be restructured.
“I haven’t seen discipline like in the armed forces,” said Gaafar, who once coached an Egyptian club run by the military.
Analysts say Egypt’s military has been consolidating its expansive role in the country since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014.
The then-military chief led the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his rule.
In May, after a train crash at Cairo’s main station left more than 20 dead, Sisi appointed military General Kamel al-Wazir as transport minister.
A comic (meme) circulated on social media showing Sisi greeting al-Wazir and asking him “Do you know about football coaching?”.
EFA President Hany Abo Rida resigned hours after the South Africa defeat, simultaneously sacking the team’s Mexican coach Javier Aguirre and his assistants. He also called on EFA’s board members to resign and most have done so.
Local media reported that authorities are investigating administrative and financial violations committed by the national football federation.
(Reporting and writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Yousef Saba and Ed Osmond)