Al Araby reports that Egyptian footballing legend Mohammad Aboutrika received a standing ovation on Sunday at the Algerian Ballon d’Or ceremony after he gave a speech in support of Palestine and Arab unity, The New Arab‘s Arabic service has reported.
The retired Egypt international made the emotional pro-Palestinian speech after announcing that Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez had won 2015’s Algerian footballer of the year. “The issue that will always unite the Arab world is the Palestinian issue and the obvious enemy of the Muslims and Arabs,” Aboutrika said. “I have written in my will that I want the ‘Sympathize with Gaza’ T-shirt to be buried with me when I die,” he added.
After scoring against Sudan during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Aboutrika famously pulled up his red national team jersey to reveal a white T-shirt reading “Sympathize with Gaza”, in protest of Israel’s ten-day blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The footballer was given a yellow card for displaying a political slogan during play and was sent a formal warning by the Confederation of African Football. boutrika enjoys sweeping popularity among Egyptians and Arabs, not only for his footballing skills but also for his philanthropy and humanitarian positions.
Even in Algeria, which is historically Egypt’s biggest football rival, Aboutrika has a large fan base. In December, an Egyptian court decided to seize Aboutrika’s funds after an appeal against a previous decision to freeze the star’s assets was lodged in May. The 37-year-old attacking midfielder – who scored 40 goals for Egypt – had publicly supported ousted Islamist president and Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi in the 2012 elections, and pro-government media have repeatedly accused him of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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