12 Nov 2013

Star striker banned over pro-Morsi gesture

9:23 pm on 12 November 2013

One of Egypt's top football stars has been banned from an international tournament after making a gesture of support for deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Ahmed Abdel Zaher says he did it in memory of all who died during the political upheaval in Egypt.

The star striker made his move on the pitch during the final of the African Champions League. He had just scored a goal for his club Al Ahly against South Africa's Orlando Pirates when he gave a four-fingered salute (Rabaa), the BBC reports.

That gesture commemorates a sit-in by supporters of Mr Morsi in Cairo, which was violently dispersed by security forces in August this year, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people.

"Yes, I raised the sign of Rabaa," he was quoted as saying by Egypt's football website FilGoal. "But I didn't mean political excitement to any one side or fan. All I meant to do was to remember the dead, whether in Rabaa, any other citizen and even policemen.''

Al Ahly officials now say the player will be excluded from the squad from Fifa's Club World Cup in Morocco in December.

Mohamed Morsi - Egypt's first democratically elected president - is on trial on charges of inciting the killing of protesters during clashes in the capital last year. He was ousted in July.