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Salah helps Warda get reinstated to Egypt’s national team

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CAIRO (AP) Mohamed Salah‘s intervention helped get Amr Warda back on the Egyptian national soccer team despite accusations that he sent lewd messages to two women.

Warda was originally expelled from the team at the African Cup of Nations, but Egyptian soccer federation president Hany Abou Rida reversed the decision on Friday following a plea from Salah and other teammates, and a meeting with the national team that was attended by the country’s minister of sports on Thursday.

“During the meeting, (Abou Rida) praised players for their sense of solidarity, their desire to see their teammate pardoned, to end his suspension, and also for their respect of any decision made by the EFA in this regard,” the federation wrote on its website. “Hence, he decided to alleviate the sanction by suspending the player only until the end of the group stage.”

Egypt, which has already qualified for the knockout stage after beating Congo on Wednesday, has only one match left to play in the group stage. The game against Uganda is scheduled for Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian federation issued a brief statement saying Abou Rida had decided to send Warda home to maintain “discipline, commitment and focus” in the squad. The decision came after videos emerged of women alleging that Warda verbally harassed them.

Warda initially denied the allegations but he soon posted a video on his Facebook page where he apologized to his family, teammates and coaches.

“I promise you that everything will be fine and that I won’t do anything that would be upsetting to anyone,” the 25-year-old player said.

Salah condemned Warda’s behavior on Twitter but said he should be given “a second chance.”

“Women must be treated with the utmost respect. `No’ means `no.’ Those things are and must remain sacred,” the Liverpool forward wrote on Thursday. “I also believe that many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn’t be sent straight to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out.

“We need to believe in second chances … we need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer.”

Egypt captain Ahmed el-Mohamady also showed solidarity with Warda. After scoring against Congo on Wednesday, El-Mohamady celebrated his goal by making a 22 sign with his fingers in reference to his teammate’s shirt number.

However, Salah’s comments in particular elicited the ire of many of his fans on social media and reignited the debate on Egyptian society’s tolerance of injustice against women.

Ghadeer Ahmed, a young Egyptian feminist, mocked Salah on Facebook by changing his nickname from “The pride of Arabs” to “The pride of sexual harassers.”

Sexual harassment, mostly ranging from catcalls to occasional pinching or grabbing, is rampant in Egypt. Polls have found that a majority of both men and women in the conservative Muslim country believe it is justified if women dress “provocatively” in public. According to a survey by the U.N. women’s agency, released in April 2013, nearly 99 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed, with 91 percent saying they feel insecure in the street as a result.

Amro Hassan Elserty, a journalist and soccer commentator, called Salah an “absolute disgrace” on his Facebook page.

“I’ll never ever support a team of sexual harassment endorsers, who believe in giving second chances to someone who has long been imposing himself on females and sexually harassing them for years,” Elserty wrote.

Since Thursday, the hashtag “unfollow-mosalah” has started attracting social media users who voiced their disillusionment with Egypt’s 27-year-old striker.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Ex-England midfielder Gascoigne on trial for sexual assault

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LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor has alleged that former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted a woman on a train by “forcibly and sloppily” planting an unwanted kiss on her lips.

Prosecutor William Mousley’s comments Monday came as Gascoigne, who has struggled with alcohol and mental-health problems, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with sexual assault of the female passenger.

Mousley said the former England star “put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”

The 52-year-old Gascoigne denies the charge.

The alleged victim has told the court that she froze when the man, who appeared drunk, kissed her in August 2018. She says she did not realize it was Gascoigne until after the alleged incident.