10 - 16 August 2000
Issue No. 494
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Chaos and disorderBy Alaa Shahine
When Zamalek's President Kamal Darwish decided to sign on Hossam and Ibrahim Hassan -- the most famous twins in the history of Egyptian football -- from the permanent arch-rivals, Ahli, there were two main things on his mind. The first was winning votes before the Club's elections next March; the second was to distract Zamalek fans from the large scale crisis of losing the League trophy for the seventh year in a row, and failing to defend their title as cup holders. Had Darwish, however, known that his political gimmick would open the Club's Pandora's box, he may have thought twice.
photo: Mohamed Wassim
"Dr Darwish is not entitled to sign any players to the Club," Ahmed Galal Ibrahim, Zamalek board member, told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the board authorised a select committee to sign new players to the Club. Darwish, it was revealed, was not one of those chosen.
The signing's turbulence, however, started earlier. Within Zamalek's squad, team players such as Khaled El-Ghandour, Sami El-Shishini and Mohamed Sabri declared their protest against what they considered a high-sky fee for signing the legendary twins (LE1.2 million for both).
The twins' move to Zamalek did not come as a surprise to those in the football sphere, as their problems with Ahli's management last season were put in the spotlight.
In the middle of the season, Hossam played on loan for three months in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while his brother had many difficulties in dealing with Ahli's German coach, Reiner Tsobil, as the international players accused him of treating him as a youngster not a veteran player. The confusion was compounded when the management decided not to start negotiating with any of the players on renewal of their contracts before the end of the season.
Nobody approached us to renew our contracts," Ibrahim Hassan told the Weekly. "Had they done that, I would have signed for free."
The surprising thing is, though, that the Hassans had no prior thoughts of heading to Zamalek. Before the end of the League season, Hossam declared that he had signed a contract with a minor Turkish club and that his twin would join him there as soon as possible.
The twins, however, failed to honour their commitment, returning from Turkey without even meeting the club's officials. "They returned to the airport before reaching the club as a result of a phone call from their mother objecting on their move to Turkey," said Abdel-Moneim El-Sawi, the players' agent. El-Sawi said he warned Hossam that he could be banned from football if the Turkish club decided to file a complaint with the Federation Internationale de Footballe Association (FIFA), using the signed contract as evidence of the breach.
"I told him that his move to Zamalek will do a great harm to his career but neither of them listened to my advice," El-Sawi said.
It was not the first time Hossam failed to follow through; two years ago, Hossam broke contract with another Turkish club, Altai Sport -- being fined a $10,000 fine settlement. Today, things aren't looking much better for Egypt's former darling duo.
Earlier this week, at an exhibition game at Ahli, Hossam was roundly booed by the Club's fans. The contempt and disregard -- ringing loud and clear -- brought tears to his eyes, and he accused the management of distorting his image in the eyes of the crowd.
"They misled the club's fans by telling them that I refused to renew my contract which is absolutely wrong," he said, the hurt striking through his voice.
The hurt, anger and confusion are high amidst the frenzy surrounding the deal. And despite Zamalek's confirmation that the agreement with the twins has been successfully cemented into place, the future still remains unclear.
"Most of the board members are frustrated by Darwish's unilateral action," Ahmed Galal said, stressing the exorbitant fee being paid to the twins -- who at 34, are considered "aging" in the world of pro football.
The question, it seems, is whether or not the duo and their signer Darwish will be able to handle the bad-mouthing and the stigmas. For it is up to them, really, to break the chaos and disorder.