Update: David provided the following. On Google Image search for Mohamed Aboutreika Gaza.
"Every athlete has a humanitarian role in society. He doesn't live solely for himself, but for others too. I like to participate in charity work and try my best to help the poor and penniless. I'm also seeking to use soccer in humanitarian work."
Search for an image of "Mohamed Aboutreika Sympathy With Gaza," and one won't find anything on google and yahoo search engines. Urukunet
has already drawn attention to the fact that directions to the image of Egypt's superstar midfielder, who along with his Pharaohs will compete with Cameroon tomorrow, Sunday, February 10, in the finals of the Cup of Nations, are not to be found on the aforementioned search engine, and attribute it to Israeli pressure.
It is indeed highly suspect that the image of the "magician" as he is known to Egyptians, and the "smiling assassin," as he's pegged by the foreign sports press, the well-mannered, humanitarian married father of twins, who won International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), Most Popular Football Player Award, with an astounding 1,017, 786 votes out of 2,727, 458
cast, outpolling Brazil's Ronaldo and David Beckham, has been disappeared by the giant search engines. What if Tom Brady had flashed a tee-shirt at the Super Bowl? Would one be hard pressed to find his image via a popular search engine.
We're talking about a man who won over one million votes in a global poll, a man considered perhaps the best football player in Africa. According to IFFHS
on Aboutreika's "Most Popular Player" victory: "The easy winner was 29 year-old Mohamed Aboutreika of Egypt, playmaker and goal getter of Al-Ahly (Cairo). He is the great idol of Egyptian football, one of the finest players in all of Africa."
It is not hard to understand why Aboutreika was voted "most popular" by over over one million fans. He's possesses an inate sense of justice as evidenced by his lifting his jersey after scoring a goal against Ghana during Africa Cup of Nations play, to reveal "Sympathy With Gaza."
He is no newcomer to just causes. According to the New York Times
, "He’s been very visible in charity work, playing in international benefit matches and appearing in TV public service announcements for cancer treatment, blood donation drives, and this one for the World Food Programme
, which urges that the effort to stop hunger, as Aboutreika says, 'is a game we have to win'. "
And how many western sports superstars could match this
? " . . . When the chairman of Tersana club wanted Aboutreika and a team-mate defender to sign their new contracts, he put a very high salary for Aboutreika compared to that of his team-mate, but Aboutreika refused to sign, and insisted to take the same salary as his team-mate although it was much lower. El-Shazli's attempts failed to persuade Aboutreika that his role for the club is much greater than this defender, and finally, Aboutreika insisted on equality and signed his contract as lower as his team-mate."
Aboutreika was warned by the Confederation of African Football. In an interview
with El Khabar, he remarks, " . . . a warning that I'm proud of."
He continues: "I think it’s normal, I’ve expressed a feeling; a natural feeling of any Arab…and if you ask any Arab about what is happening to Palestinians and Gaza population he would tell you the same…
"What I did is a simple duty and has nothing to do with politics or other things…I showed my sympathy with Gaza population that’s all…"
Aboutreika most likely was spared suspension due to an outpouring of e-mails to FIFA like the one from journalist Ahmed Gamal
, "He is a good player and he belongs to all Arab and Muslim nations, and he
reflected what is in our hearts. We are asking you, in the name of human rights, to cooperate with us and support him. Please do not even think about any suspension for him, because your tournament will be fake and the whole Muslim world is supporting him. Please don't make that mistake. We are all sympathizing with Gaza."
Indeed, "We are all sympathizing with Gaza." When I taught younger kids, I'd teach a unit on heros. To my chagrin, most of the kids would choose highly paid movie stars or sports figures with little to distinguish them as heros other than their talent. Today I'd be proud if one of my students chose the humble superstar Mohamed Aboutreika as their hero, and I'd be even prouder if the people who man the major search engines would recognize Mohamed Aboutreika a courageous hero as much of the world has done.
Photos: Aboutreika after scoring in the semi-finals against the Ivory Coast.