Thursday, November 26, 2009

Knobhead of the week - Amr Zaki

In an age where footballers are routinely condemned for being solely motivated by money, perhaps we should be glad that Amr Zaki puts principles first.

If only his principles weren't so odious, that is.

Zaki is the Egyptian striker who wowed English crowds with his penchant for finding the net early last season. While on loan at Wigan, he led the Premier League in scoring for the first couple of months before tailing off in form. But there were signs that Zaki might have been a bit of a c**k - he went AWOL after international duty 4 times during the season, leading to then-coach Steve Bruce to label him the worst professional he had ever worked with.

But repeatedly being late is forgivable and perhaps it was worth given him the benefit of the doubt. What Zaki has done this week is different, and confirmed that yes, he was a massive twunt all along. There was talk of Portsmouth seeking to bring him back for another stint in the English league, but Zaki quashed this speculation, giving the following reason, on his official website:

"After Portsmouth signed an Israeli player and also hired an Israeli football director a possible move was ruled out. On top of that, no way could I play at Portsmouth with an Algerian within in their ranks."

Those Israelis would be defender Tal Ben Haim and Director of Football Avram Grant, and the Algerian player is Nadir Belhaj. The tense relationship of Arab nations and Israel is well-known, but there is also bad blood between the Egyptian and Algerian football teams, as seen in their violent World Cup qualifier last week.

Mind you, the two men that own Portsmouth Football Club are Ali Al-Faraj and Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Saudi and Emirati respectively, who hired Avram Grant and clearly recognise that nationality is secondary to the ability to do a job well in football.

If Zaki chooses not to play for a club because of his odious racist views, that's entirely up to him. But to publicise those views on his website confirms him as a class-A douchebag. In a part of the world crying out for peace, someone like Zaki, a hero of the Egyptian national team and role model for many young people, had a chance to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Clearly he chose the former.

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