The diplomatic row over Qatar has reached soccer.
An Egyptian coach was suspended on Thursday for refusing to give interviews to a Qatar-based television network and attempting to boycott a news conference where the network’s journalists were present. After finally giving in and agreeing to attend the news conference, the coach covered the station’s microphone with his hand to try and block the recording, the Confederation of African Football said when announcing his punishment.
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Hossam el-Badry, coach of Egyptian club Al Ahly and a former Egypt international, was fined $10,000 by CAF and suspended for one game for the snubs aimed at the Qatar-based beIN Sports network following two games in the African Champions League.
Egypt was one of four countries alongside Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and funding terrorism.
Qatar, which will host soccer’s World Cup in 2022, denies the allegations.
The beIN sports channels are owned by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s flagship television network and a factor in the diplomatic standoff. The four anti-Qatar countries want, among other things, Al Jazeera to be shut down.
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The African soccer body said el-Badry initially refused to attend a news conference following Al Ahly’s 2-0 loss to Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca on June 20 because of the presence of beIN sports journalists. He did eventually attend, but either put his hand over the beIN microphone while he spoke or pushed the microphone away, CAF said.
Following a game in Egypt last weekend against Cameroon’s Coton Sport, el-Badry and Al Ahly players refused all interviews with beIN. The players also boycotted the news conference.
El-Badry’s one-game ban was put on hold, provided he was not found guilty of a similar offense during the remainder of the African Champions League, CAF said. Al Ahly has qualified for the quarterfinals.