It is the most naive of rulers who challenges a footballer who has won the heart of the nation. Sisi is such a ruler and Muhammed Abu Treika is such a player. The Sisi regime has alternated between Machiavellian violence, despotic countenance and naive policies that veer towards an absence of understanding of what propels the hearts of Egyptians. The regime has killed, the strongman has maimed, his security apparatus has jailed and tortured by the tens of thousands but in attacking Abu Treika, you will be shocked to hear, he may have crossed the red line.
To outside observers, and external actors, this will not make sense. But to those belonging to the empire of the fanatical when it comes to Football (aka Soccer in certain environs) to attack a Footballing national hero is commit the greatest of sins. In attempting to confiscate funds linked to a tourism company rumored to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood where Abu Treika has a stake Sisi unearthed a world of trouble. Instead of successfully burnishing his credentials as a man on an anti MB mission Sisi and regime underestimated two things: the endless love for Abu Treika and the unconditional love of Football.
While learning about missiles and the effects of brute shows of strength on domestic and foreign discourse Sisi forgot some highly important facts about the man he wishes to label as ‘terrorist’.
- He brought more victories to Egypt than Sisi ever has: 4 African Cups.
- His money has been used for good: to help cancer struck children. Turned down far larger sums to play abroad so he can help the Egyptian national team and league.
- His pro-Palestinian stance on the field and off endeared him to millions more throughout the Arab world.
- As the second most beloved icon in the history of the Egyptian game, after El Khatib, his popularity cuts across all lines: political, athletic, and religious.
- In a country that views itself as religious the man’s demeanor, off the court and on is beyond reproach.
- Lastly, but certainly not least, after the now infamous Port Said massacre, likely by the regime, Abu Treika’s pro martyr stance garnered him enormous respect.
There are miscalculations of varying size but…
Mr. Sisi, you sir, have pissed off a nation!