Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1282, (11- 17 February 2016)
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1282, (11- 17 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Colourful commentator

Football broadcaster Mahmoud Bakr, who died at age 72, ran a witty play-by-play behind the microphone, Abeer Anwar reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Mahmoud Bakr, one of Egypt’s most famous football commentators, who gained huge popularity because of his witty remarks, passed away on 3 February at the age of 72 after a short battle with heart disease. He died at a military hospital in his home city of Alexandria.

Bakr, a former defender for Alexandria’s Olympic team, contributed to winning the club’s sole Premier League title in 1966.

Being a former army officer, the 1967 war with Israel put an end to Bakr’s career as a footballer, causing him to switch to administrative work after he finished his military service. He served as the Olympic Club’s president in 1990 and 2001, and was a board member at the Egyptian Football Association.

In the 1980s, Bakr began his starring commentary career on radio and TV. With funny clichés, insightful analyses and successful forecasts of game twists, Bakr gained popularity as Egypt’s much-coveted commentator for TV channels.

He was also one of the first football commentators in Egypt to go deep into an analysis of matches, explaining to viewers the intricacies of team formations.

Unforgettable was his famous quote during the Egyptian national team’s encounter with The Netherlands during the 1990 World Cup in Italy, the last one Egypt would qualify for. “Justice has landed on Palermo Stadium,” he said jubilantly when the referee ordered a penalty kick for Egypt, turning its late 1-0 defeat into a draw with Holland, the then European champions.

“To whoever is out in his balcony for a cigarette, to whoever just began following the match, come in. A goal has been scored,” Bakr often told viewers who might have missed the action.

It would be normal for Egyptian viewers to hear Bakr complaining to directors about a screen glitch, or voicing discontent with cameramen instead of focusing on a daring counter-attack on the field, things that his fans quipped and laughed about.

In the middle of his commentary, Bakr would change the game by pleading to Alexandria’s municipal officials to address a certain problem touching the daily lives of the city’s residents, like water cuts and power blackouts.

He had in his remaining years also interspersed his running commentary with political thoughts in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution that badly affected league games, most of which had to be played without spectators for security reasons.

Bakr had recently starred in a string of TV commercials for sodas and mobile telephone lines.

Funeral prayers were performed at Olympic Club mosque in central Alexandria. The governor of Alexandria was at the forefront of several dozen mourners.

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