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Egyptian football star Aboutrika back on state terrorism list

Egypt's answer to Zidane is accused of funding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood
Mohamed Aboutrika lives in Qatar and faces arrest if he returns to Egypt (AFP)

Egyptian football star Mohamed Aboutrika has been placed back on Egypt’s terrorism list along with more than 1,500 other names, Cairo Criminal Court announced on Monday.

Aboutrika, 39, is accused of financing the Muslim Brotherhood, officially designated a terrorist organisation in Egypt since 2013, and has had his assets frozen.

Now retired from playing, the former al-Ahly and Egyptian national team midfielder first came under the authorities’ suspicion in three years ago.

In May 2015, a committee investigating Brotherhood members confiscated the assets of tourism company Ashad Tours, which was co-founded by Aboutrika in 2013.

Aboutrika was first placed on the terrorism list in January 2017, a decision which he appealed.

Now living in exile in Qatar, the former footballer faces arrest if he returns to Egypt.

Aboutrika’s lawyer Mohamed Osman vowed to challenge the ruling.

“For the second time, we were surprised to hear the news about my client being placed on the terror list,” he said.

“We learned about it from the media, but we will proceed to take all necessary legal action to put into effect two rulings that removed his name from the list previously.”

We were surprised to hear the news about my client being placed on the terror list

- Mohamed Osman, Aboutrika's lawyer

Aboutrika is joined on the terrorism list by 1,528 other people, including deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi’s son Osama and his daughter Shaimaa, former parliament speaker Saad al-Katani and former government ministers are also named.

Known as the “Egyptian Zidane”, Aboutrika won the African Cup of Nations with the Pharaohs in 2006 and 2008, scoring in the latter year’s final.

He was recognised by the African football confederation as the best player in the continent four times, in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2013.   

On the same day Aboutrika was placed on the terrorism list the former playmaker announced he had obtained the class A coaching license from the Asian Football Confederation.

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, who is this season's African player of the year and is widely tipped to win the coveted Ballon d’Or prize for the world’s best footballer, has often cited Aboutrika as a strong influence on his life and career.

“I've been lucky to play with you, I learned from you a lot, so far I cannot imagine playing without you,” Salah wrote on Facebook in 2013.

“Thank you for everything and I wish you the best in your next step,” he added.

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