The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) launched an initiative on Sunday to support players in the third and fourth divisions amid the coronavirus crisis, according to Ahram Online.
“The Egyptian Football Association will raise a fund with a bank account to support players in the third and fourth divisions in these circumstances to fight against the coronavirus, which has led to the suspension of football activities and consequently all income for those players,” a statement by the EFA said on Sunday.
It added that all “football stars, Premier League clubs and all football fans” are welcome to contribute to help their counterparts.
All sports activities have been suspended in Egypt since 15 March in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
While Premier League players earn millions of Egyptian pounds in yearly revenue, the second tier is less fortunate, and players in the third and fourth divisions play for only a few thousand. Clubs in these divisions have very limited resources as they have no endorsements nor commercial revenues and rely on state and private contributions.
The EFA initiative has drawn mixed reactions.
“The clubs have rights and the EFA should provide its support for these clubs instead of asking Premier League clubs and players to pay for their colleagues. The EFA should do its job especially that we pay several charges to provide them with resources,” Ahmed Mesery, the president of third division club Nabaroua, told Filgoal.
On the other hand, Sherif El-Omda, chairman of Shaab Qous, a fourth division club, has praised the initiative, saying that clubs in the lower divisions are facing a crippling financial crisis and would appreciate any support.
As this season’s fate is still in limbo, like in most countries in the world, there have been voices asking from Premier League players to cut their salaries to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic on their clubs.
Officials in clubs have so far been shy in talking about this subject, but several former players said that the big stars, especially those at big clubs like Ahly and Zamalek, should take the initiative.
“We are hoping to resume activity soon, but I think that things are going in the opposite direction. The players felt how the club has been committed to them previously and paid all their dues on time. I think our players will show the same level of solidarity in these hard times,” Ittihad coach Talaat Youssef, who was the first Premier League manager to agree on a 50 percent wage cut, told a radio programme on Sunday.