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Coptic Solidarity Urges FIFA to Investigate Discrimination Against Coptic Footballers in Egypt

Contact: Lindsay Griffin, Coptic Solidarity, 801-512-1713, coptadvocacy@copticsolidarity.org
WASHINGTON, June 18, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- Yesterday, Coptic Solidarity submitted a report directly to FIFA officials as well as on their new online complaints mechanism, delineating rampant discrimination against Coptic footballers at all levels of football within Egypt.

    "During the past half-century, an infinitely small number of Coptic footballers - no more than 6 - have managed to join top flight soccer clubs."

Coptic Solidarity first filed complaints with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in August 2016. The complaints were mailed to both entities by secured mail, yet neither entity replied to Coptic Solidarity or investigated the rampant exclusion of Coptic athletes from representing Egypt in the Olympics or in the World Cup.

    "There are currently 540 players in the top-flight soccer clubs in Egypt, and that number includes only one Coptic footballer. The Egyptian Olympic Mission to Brazil in 2016 was completely devoid of Copts, and the same applies to the Egyptian National Team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Not a single Copt can be found in either the main team or the reserve, and it follows that there are no Coptic sports commentators anywhere in official Egyptian media outlets or in private Muslim-owned media."

In February 2018, several European journalists contacted FIFA regarding Coptic Solidarity's complaint. FIFA denied ever receiving any complaints. Twenty months later, FIFA contacted Coptic Solidarity directly requesting more information.
Coptic Solidarity board member, Mr. Magdi Khalil, took the lead in drafting the report submitted to FIFA. He renewed calls for those who have experienced discrimination to submit reports on their experiences. A serious challenge to reporting and investigating human rights violations in Egypt is that Internal Security often pressures individuals to retract their reports, under threat of harm. Despite the risk, numerous Coptic footballers submitted new reports to Coptic Solidarity this year of the discrimination they have experienced in Egypt, solely for their faith.
The report Coptic Solidarity just submitted to FIFA on June 17, 2018, contains an overview of the widespread discrimination against Copts in football including ample sources and testimonies by moderate Muslims corroborating reality of the ongoing discrimination. It also includes a sampling of 25 of the cases reported to Coptic Solidarity by Coptic footballers.

Coptic Solidarity urges FIFA to launch a thorough, independent investigation into this rampant discrimination against Copts, which is in direct violation of FIFA's non-discrimination policy, and to apply pressure to the Egyptian government to take appropriate action to rectify this situation and to ensure that Coptic footballers are afforded equal opportunities to pursue their dreams and talent to the highest level possible. FIFA must consider taking appropriate action against Egypt if it fails to satisfy FIFA's non-discrimination policies.

Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. It advocates in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Griffin at 801-512-1713 or coptadvocacy@copticsolidarity.org