The Egyptian Premier League has been rocked again by the news that 12-time champions Zamalek are threatening to quit – for the third time in a year.
Once again club representatives say this is down to ‘disastrous refereeing decisions’ that favour their rivals, in particular, Al Ahly.
Ahly were awarded a penalty in their game against Misr El-Maqassa on Sunday, which they ended up winning 1-0 to keep their place at the top of the league, with Zamelek 14 points behind them, although they do have four games in hand.
“Officials are ruining Egyptian football”
Chairman Mortada Mansour told KingFut: “We will not continue this Egyptian Premier League season. Ibrahim Nour El-Dein is corrupt and I will not let him get away with it.
“[Egyptian Football Association president] Hany Abou Rida is not free to follow the league standards. I will not continue this Premier League season; officials are ruining it.
“I’m not joking this time, the whole board is against continuing this season. It’s either we don’t play the next match or I leave. I will not accept pressure from officials.
“When we have an FA that respects clubs and officials on a better level only then will we continue the league.”
Zamalek had threatened to quit in May, again citing “disastrous refereeing decisions” favouring Al Ahly, who went on to win their 38th title last season.
On both occasions, they demanded the head of the refereeing committee be sacked along with the official whose decisions they felt were unacceptable.
A statement in May read: “The club’s board of directors, under the leadership of chairman Mortada Mansour, decided not to continue this league competition as long as the refereeing committee and its head, Gamal El-Ghandour, remain in their positions.
“The decision comes due to disastrous refereeing errors. At a time when an illegitimate goal by Misr Lel Makasa against Zamalek was allowed to stand [in Sunday’s league match], Contractors had two players wrongfully dismissed against Ahly.”
Zamalek facing sever consequences?
Prior to this, Zamalek reversed a decision to pull out of Egypt’s top flight in December 2015 for similar reasons.
Had they not done so, they would have been banned from playing football for a year and relegated to the fourth division, reports the BBC.
In the latest case, the Zamalek’s social media account also posted a gif of Heath Ledger’s The Joker character sarcastic clapping from ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ after their opponent’s game finished on Sunday.
— Zamalek SC (@ZSCOfficial) December 4, 2016
Their next game is against Aswan of Friday night, but it remains to be seen if they will play the fixture.
Egyptian rivals consider following Zamalek
Fellow Egyptian giants Ismaily have since released a statement saying they will also consider forfeiting the league while calling for a repeal on the ban on fans attending domestic football matches, according to reports, among other demands related to referee performance.
“The administration is thinking about withdrawing from the league because of the referees injustice towards the club since the season started,” said club president Ibrahim Othman in an official statement translated by King Fut.
Ismaily are currently 11th in the league, 19 off Al Ahly in first place.