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Meet Egypt’s Christian soccer staff

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Feb 14, 2021

Je Suis (I Am) Club is the primary soccer staff established initially to struggle sectarian discrimination in opposition to actual skills in Egypt. Mina Bendary, a Christian soccer participant, is the founding father of the staff. Although Bendary is a gifted soccer participant, he suffered repeated rejections from golf equipment within the Alexandria governorate.

He succeeded in taking part in on the Alexandrian Union Club in 2015, however he was requested to play beneath the identify “Ibrahim” as a result of Mina is named a Christian identify. He performed with the membership for six months and was registered with the Egyptian Football Association.

Bendary informed Al-Monitor, “The turning point in my life was when my colleagues and the church blamed me for accepting this situation (changing my name), so I decided to have my own team to embrace the talents of Christian players who are suffering from the same problem and to help them follow their dreams.”

“This problem is not a new one; it has been there for decades and there are no legal rules stating this frankly. Sports are meant to be for all people despite color, race, sex or even religion,” he mentioned.

He added, “I decided to retire playing [football], as I refused to play for a club under another name. And then I thought about establishing a new club that does not have tight constraints to join.”

Je Suis Club was established in 2016 to assist primarily Christians to play soccer with none boundaries and in order that they will maintain their names and identities. But afterward, it additionally opened the door for Muslims who had hassle getting on to one of many predominant groups within the league.

The staff additionally attracted ladies who play within the Churches Football League — a pleasant, symbolic league by way of which the church buildings’ groups compete in opposition to one another. These feminine gamers additionally needed to have extra outstanding probabilities to indicate their skills. Recently, in December 2020, the U20 Women’s Egyptian National Football Team was subjected to a wave of bullying and sexual harassment on social media platforms after their victory in a match in opposition to the Lebanese nationwide staff.

The predominant Egyptian soccer golf equipment comparable to El-ZamalekEl-Ahly, El-Ismaili, the Alexandrian Union and others have solely Muslim gamers amongst their groups. Je Suis Club has to make a take care of one of many predominant golf equipment registered with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) to play beneath its identify within the 4th degree Egyptian League. The Egyptian League solely permits golf equipment which might be registered within the EFA to play within the league, so Je Suis Club has to discover a registered staff to play with within the league. Clubs comparable to Egyptian Alexandrian Club Victoria and Yousr Alexandria obtain a sure sum of money to let the gamers of Je Suis Club play beneath their umbrella. If any membership receives a prize or monetary reward, it is not going to be divided between it and Je Suis.

“I am dreaming of the day that I get my club officially registered and well-known among people. I have been playing for three years under the umbrella of other clubs in the league, and I cannot receive an appropriate financial reward to develop my team,” Bendary mentioned.

Forming a membership is a protracted journey requiring some huge cash and energy. According to Article 106 of Sports Law No. 71 of 2017, the membership will need to have a minimal of 100 members, a hard and fast headquarters and locations appropriate for actions; the overall space of the membership have to be greater than 1,500 sq. meters.

The month-to-month charge required to affix the staff is 150 Egyptian kilos (round $9) from every participant. The charges assist to pay for courtroom rental prices and tools. Je Suis Club has not obtained any funds from a church or authorities entity because it was fashioned. It initially kicked off with solely 20 gamers and now consists of nearly 140 gamers. The 20 who performed as soon as the staff was established have been from the Alexandria governorate. After that, the fame of the membership inspired Christian candidates from different governorates throughout Egypt to affix in and chase their goals.

Mina Samir, who performs with Je Suis Club, informed Al-Monitor, “I started to lose my passion for soccer — which is the most important thing in my life — because of the several rejections I received from different clubs. The problem starts when they hear my name, which is known to be Christian. Je Suis was a new ray of hope for me, and it gave me the chance to play in the league. Still, there are a lot of rights that we require.”

Although Christians are gaining extra rights in Egypt — primarily in parliament and authorities, amongst different sectors — they proceed to face some difficulties and discrimination in sports activities.


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