Why You Didn’t Make the Egyptian Soccer Team January 16, 2010

Why You Didn’t Make the Egyptian Soccer Team

If you want to play for the Egypt national soccer team, you have to meet their qualifications:

  • Be Muslim

Skill seems to come in a distant second:

There are no Christians on the squad defending its African Cup of Nations title in Angola.

For years, Egyptian athletes have demonstrated their piety in front of fans and the media — kneeling down to offer a prayer of thanks after scoring or winning, or praying before games to implore God to come to their team’s aid.

[Coach Hassan] Shehata’s comments take religion in sports to a whole new level. He was quoted by Cairo newspapers as saying skill alone won’t guarantee anyone a place on the national team.

He said “pious behavior” was the main reason for selection.

“Without it, we will never select any player regardless of his potential,” he said. “I always strive to make sure that those who wear the Egypt jersey are on good terms with God.”

And clearly, this is all working out for them:

Egypt failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup finals in South Africa, losing to Algeria 1-0 in a make-or-break decider. Egypt last qualified to the World Cup in 1990.

(Thanks to Jack for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Well, this is just silly – everyone knows that God only favours American Football and baseball teams!

  • Jasen777

    I guess Allah likes Team USA better than Egypt.

  • Wendy

    If I were Muslim, I would be seriously offended at their presumption that my/our god didn’t have anything better to do than fix a soccer match. But, of course, that’s because I’m just like everybody else – biased, and projecting my biases onto my own invisible overlord. Thank god I’m an atheist and don’t have to deal with that shit, lol.

  • @Lagunatic; particularly those teams headquartered in states with a high percentage of baptist rednecks. God’s favorite sport is NASCAR.

  • Sports are said to be a form of ritualized combat. Injecting religion into it (either by making the team mono-faith as here, or using the only slightly-subtler American model of publicly pious athletes) makes it, well, a religious war being enacted. It strikes me as being something of a throwback to the old days of tribal henotheism, in which inter-tribal conflict was seen as incorporating a contest between the respective patron deities.

  • The only defense that I can bring up is the fact that Islam is the official religion of Egypt. If you look at being part of the national team as being an ambassador of the country, there is a logic to the policy. This doesn’t make it right, of course.

    Though if you look at the team as representing the PEOPLE of Egypt, then there should definitely be more religious diversity. Wikipedia tells me that 90-94% of the population identifies as Muslim. That other 6-10% should be represented as well.

  • dglas

    How do you spell “Coors” in Arabic?

  • Polly

    People who put ideology ahead of ability or merit always wind up losing to those who don’t.

    To the coach:
    Enjoy your piety, LOSER!

  • Spurs Fan

    Allah thinks Algeria is more devout in its Muslim faith than Egypt. Damn Coptic Christians!

  • muggle

    I’m no sports fan but before I even got to that last paragraph, I was thinking, boy, I bet they win lots of games. Take a page from the Americans, at least, and take your fake piety in a muscular package when it comes to athletes.

  • gwen

    It adds a bit of security to the league to know who will be in last place year after year after year after year!!

  • This reminds me–vaguely–about Napoleon’s quip that in war, God is on the side of whoever has the biggest cannons and the best tacticians.

  • chaoticneutral

    Oh gee…I guess maybe the reason why the Red Wings lost to the Blackhawks in a shootout today was because I didn’t PRAY for them to win! *eyeroll*

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