It’s no surprise and little wonder that Zamalek’s President Mortada Mansour is once again the talk of the football street for all the wrong reasons as he guides his club to another unfavorable situation in their bid to catch league leaders Ahly. This time the ever controversial president is threating to drop out of the league season if their game against Masr Al-Maqasa is not replayed after his team was denied a clear cut penalty in their 1-0 loss in a domestic fixture.
The shocking decision came when a Maqasa defender apparently forgot he’s an outfield player and made a stunning one-handed save inside the box to prevent a cross from reaching a Zamalek player. No- one in the stadium or watching the TV missed the sure handball except for referee Gehad Gereisha who waved play on, much to the shock of the players in white who simply could not believe they were not given a penalty.
The decision was as shocking as it gets, and the White Knights have all the right to be fuming, especially that they conceded later in the game and lost by one goal which dented their title hopes. However, is it normal to see the president of the club ordering the club’s coach to lead his players off the pitch and abandon the game? How could the president of one of the biggest clubs in Africa ask his players to quit a game in the middle of it just because his team was denied a penalty, no matter how clear it was?
Abandoning the game was even more shocking than the referee’s decision. Zamalek did eventually complete the game after a long discussion on the field between the players and their manager who was getting orders by phone, probably from Mansour who was not attending. The scene itself said much about how the club is being operated by Mansour since he took over. This is maybe the fifth time he threatens to quit the league over refereeing decisions. But refereeing mistakes is part of the game, exactly like the players’ mistakes. Of course no one likes to lose or draw a game because of a mistake by a referee but how many times does a team threaten to quit the league because of that? Only at Zamalek and only in Mansour’s era could this happen.
The club now wants a replay which is something even more amusing as in no country in the world will you find such a repeat even if it’s the most obvious penalty in history. It’s not possible according to the rules of the game or the league but Mansour doesn’t care about rules and accused the Egyptian Federation and the referee himself of deliberately gifting the win to Maqasa, and that the referee Gereisha didn’t give his team a penalty because his father once ran against Mansour in elections back in their hometown. Mansour made the allegation publicly, much to the amusement of even Zamalek fans who made the Zamalek boss the butt of jokes on social media.
As it stands, the game will not be replayed. Zamalek will probably back down from its demand because quitting the league could lead to serious sanctions that could include being demoted to the second division.
The jury is still out. Let’s see what Mansour does in the next few days.