Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, a striker for Egypt’s Al Ahli football club, has apologized for Egyptians after flashing the “Rabaa” protest sign during an African Champions League final match against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates, his agent said Tuesday.
“In an official statement today, Abdel-Zaher apologized to Ahly management and all Egyptian football fans for displaying the “Rabaa” sign,” Mohammed Shiha told Ahram Online.
“Rabaa” means “fourth” in Arabic. The hand gesture has become a solidarity symbol with the Muslim Brotherhood protesters, who were quelled by police when they made al-Rabaa al-Adawiya square as their demonstration camp.
Zaher made the sign when he celebrated scoring the second goal against Orlando Pirates on Sunday. He said the symbol was to honor the victims of the police’s dispersal of the protest camp in August that left hundreds dead and thousands injured.
Shiha added: “The player didn’t intend to offend anyone. His behavior was only to show solidarity with one of his friends who died in Rabaa.”
Meanwhile, Ahli’s football committee decided to suspend the striker and to freeze all of his financial dues until the incident is investigated on Tuesday.
He will also be subject to additional investigations by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).
The Egyptian side, commonly referred to as the “Red Devils,” beat the Pirates 2-0 to win the African Champions League with a 3-1 aggregate victory.