Investigators from Egypt's National Security Agency are stepping up efforts to identify the administrators of a Facebook page called “We are all Saleh Selim” that has been accused of slandering Al-Ahly Sporting Club, while harshly criticising the police, the military and the judiciary.
Several board members of Al-Ahly, Egypt's most popular football club, have filed complaints against the Facebook page, which they say is used for attacking the board and state institutions, Al-Masry Al-Youm has learned.
“We noticed that the page offends the club on an ongoing basis. It attacks us as well as the police and military. Thus, I called on an official from the National Security Agency to check up on the page to reveal its administrators,” a board member said.
The same source added that the security agency has discovered that the page is suppoted by Muslim Brotherhood members, with some of the content posted from outside Egypt to create strife within Egyptian society, while inciting against the police, military and judiciary.
The page is also accused of insulting the current chairman, Mahmoud Taher, and members of the board.
Meanwhile, the administrators of the Facebook page have responded to the allegations from the board, calling them "trivial" and "ridiculous", particularly the allegation that they have a political affiliation. They asserted that the concern is to challenge the poor management of the club.
On Sunday night, the adminstrators posted a statement denying the allegations against them, saying the board members, driven by their hunger for power, had attempted to drag the Facebook page into a political conflict that they have never been a part of — and never would be.
"From the very first day, the page declared its absolute rejection of discussing politics or involving religion in any issue that is being addressed. The archive is a proof,” the statement read.
“We only disagree with Al-Ahly board on its management mechanisms at the club. So the board's manipulative approach and unfounded accusations against the page that it is hostile toward sovereign bodies are just ridiculous,” it added.
The Facbook page is named after Saleh Selim, who was a prominent striker for the club's football team in the 1960s. He then became the club's chairman in the follow decade and is still popular among fans for the number of football championships won under his leadership. Selim, who passed away in 2002, also played roles in three movies.
The Al-Ahly football team is normally high-performing, with many trophies in its cabinet. However, it has suffered a recent slump, with many fans blaming poor coaching and managerial decisions.
Dutch coach Martin Jol quit the club in mid-August after spending just six months with the Egyptian giants. He decided to leave after Al-Ahly failed to get past the group phase of the African Champions League, according to a statement from the club's management.
The former Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur boss helped the Egyptian team retain their domestic title in June. However, the club said Jol, 60, apologised for going out of the Champions League, a competition they have won a record eight times.
Al Ahly's hopes ended after a 2-2 home draw with surprise package Zesco United of Zambia left them unable to secure a top-two finish in Group A, thereby failing to reach next month's semi-finals.
The draw came five days after they lost to arch-rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian Cup final.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm