CAIRO. Hosts Egypt became the second team to confirm a slot at the last 16 stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a 2-0 win over DR Congo on Wednesday night.
But the nation’s pre-match course had involved the indefinite suspension of midfielder Amr Warda for non-sporting behaviour.
“The head of the Egyptian Football Federation (EFF), Hani Abu Reda, has decided to dismiss Amr Warda from the team’s camp after consulting with the team’s technical and administrative staff,” read a tweet by the EFF hours before playing DR Congo.
The 25-year-old player was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing women following multiple claims, videos and his chats online days after they defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 a week ago. Warda came on for Abdallah El Said in the 71st minute for that match.
However, Egyptian players seemed to be in disagreement with Warda’s omission and instead expressed solidarity with their teammate.
Against Zimbabwe, one of the substitutes displayed Warda’s jersey while captain Ahmed El Mohamady celebrated Egypt’s opener by displaying his number 22 with his fingers.
Whereas coach Javier Aguirre offered no comment during the post-match press conference, star Mohamed Salah, who had struck the second goal, tweeted about the issue.
“Women must be treated with the utmost respect. ‘No’ means ‘no’. Those things are and must remain sacred. 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,” he posted via @MoSalah.
“We need to believe in second chances. we need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer,” the Liverpool player went on.
Warda later apologised in a video via Instagram and Daily Monitor understands Salah, El Mohamady, Walid Soliman and two other players had a meeting with Reda to allow their teammate back.
“The players asked Reda to forgive Warda and he is back to the team,” disclosed Tarek Talaat, a writer with Yallakora.com.
The FC PAOK player, on-loan at Atromitos, is in line to face Uganda Cranes for the last Group A match at Cairo International Stadium tomorrow.
However, it is not first time that Warda has been accused of these acts. The former Al Ahly player faced an allegation of similar nature while with the youth national team in 2013.
In August 2017, his loan move to Portuguese club CD Feriense was terminated within three days after sexually harassing the wives of two of his teammates.
Then, Egypt’s team director Ehab Lehita kept Warda out of the squad to face Uganda in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers on grounds of “technical reasons”.
Warda’s latest chapter of sexual allegations has split the nation with some stating they won’t watch Egypt’s matches for as long as he is with the team.
“Not watching any more games. I hope they get knocked out because this is shameful. Some things are more important than soccer,” read a tweet via @Mansy_yy.
“He made a big mistake for the fourth time and this is the second time with the national team,” said Mohamed Banna, an Egyptian freelance journalist. “They need to keep him away from the camp as he has an issue.”
AMR WARDA AT A GLANCE
Full name: Amr Medhat Warda
Club: PAOK (on loan at Atromitos)
Date of birth: September 17, 1993
Place of birth: Alexandria, Egypt
Playing position: Winger, attacking midfielder