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Egypt: Football star Aboutrika loses appeal to be removed from terror list

Exiled former footballer to remain on watchlist until 2023, as Cairo court makes final ruling on his case
Mohamed Aboutrika scored 38 times in 100 appearances for Egypt's national team, guiding them to two African Cup of Nations titles (AFP/File photo)

Football icon Mohamed Aboutrika will remain on Egypt’s state terrorism list, after a court rejected an appeal against his inclusion. 

The Court of Cassation ruled on Thursday that the former star, along with 1,528 others, would remain on the list until May 2023. 

Aboutrika was first added to the watchlist in 2017, as he was accused of helping to finance the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Two years earlier, he had his assets seized, after a tourism company he helped set up was accused of being linked to the Brotherhood. The former footballer denies all allegations. 

Thursday’s ruling is final and cannot be further appealed, a judicial source told AFP. 

Aboutrika is widely considered to be one of the greatest football players in Egypt’s history. Between 2004 and 2014, the forward guided Cairo-based club Al-Ahly to seven domestic league titles and five African Champions League triumphs, scoring over 150 goals in the process. 

Aboutrika: The unlikely reunion of an exiled Egyptian icon and his former team
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For the Egyptian national team, he scored 38 times in 100 appearances, helping the Pharaohs to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 2006 and 2008. 

He often spoke out on political issues during his playing career, including voicing solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and lending support to the pro-democracy protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square that led to the overthrow of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. 

The 42-year-old has lived in exile in Doha since 2017, where he works as a pundit for broadcaster BeIN Sports. 

Following Al Ahly’s qualification for the Club World Cup, a continental tournament which took place in Qatar in February, Aboutrika said: “After four years of depriving me of visiting Al Ahly, fate brought the team to play... in Doha, and I will be close to them.” 

However, hopes of reuniting with his former team were quashed when the club put out a statement stating that Aboutrika would not be able to visit the team due to “the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic”.

He did manage to watch the team from the stands, as Al-Ahly lost 2-0 against Bayern Munich on 9 February.

Following the game, video footage emerged of two Egyptian players, Hussein el-Shahat and Mahmoud Kahraba, shaking hands with Aboutrika. Both were subsequently suspended for breaching coronavirus regulations by greeting someone outside of the team’s medical bubble.