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World News

Charity flags concerns Christians are prevented from playing in Egypt's World Cup team

by Eno Adeogun

Christian charity Open Doors spoke to people about why they believe Hany Ramzy has been the only ever Christian player in the national team and why there are very few in Egypt's local teams.

Remon Zakhry plays for a small football club in Assiut, Upper Egypt. He was routinely told that Christians do not play football in Egypt whenever he applied to play in clubs.

 

Opening up about nearly signing a contract to join Second Division club, El Gouna FC, with coach Ismail Youssef, he explained: "I presented my ID to complete the contract and Youssef saw my name. He was surprised to learn that Remon is my real name and not a nickname. He returned my ID and left the room.
 
"The contractor attending the meeting told me later that Youssef doesn't like to work with Christians."

While Christians make up around ten per cent of Egypt's population, the number of them competing for Egypt in sporting events is extremely low.

The 2016 Olympic Games which had 122 athletes from Egypt didn't have a single Coptic Christian compete. Coptic Solidarity filed a complaint with the International Olympic Committee, saying the absence of Christians was the "product of deep-rooted discrimination that exists in the administration of athletics and football in Egypt, and in Egyptian society at large".

Explaining another reason for the discrimination, Mina Milad - who withheld his real name for security reasons - told Open Doors: "Football is a popular game and it is widely believed that Copts should not get the fame and wealth that comes with being a successful player."

Egypt is number 17 on the Open Doors World Watch List that ranks the countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.

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