As Egyptians Face Poverty, Sisi Finds Cash for Football Team Bonuses

Published October 10th, 2017 - 10:03 GMT
Egypt celebrates beating Congo to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia next year (Tarek Abdel Hamid/AFP)
Egypt celebrates beating Congo to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia next year (Tarek Abdel Hamid/AFP)
  • After Egypt qualified for the World Cup, its president gave a large bonus to each of the national team players
  • But many Egyptians are living in poverty, made worse by an ongoing financial crisis
  • Many took to Twitter to lambast the decision
  • It comes at a time when excessive spending by Sisi's regime is coming under scrutiny


With millions of Egyptians living in poverty, their president has found the money to hand out one-and-a-half million Egyptian pounds to each player from the national football team.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave the bonus, equivalent to $85,000, after the Pharaohs made World Cup qualification following a 27-year drought.

Egyptians are overjoyed at securing a place in the tournament for only the third time in history.

That has not stopped them from raising an eyebrow at Sisi's apparent extravagance amid a financial crisis that has seen ordinary people suffer soaring food, fuel and electricity prices.

A million and a half to each player because they qualified thanks to the prayers of their parents, and the genius of #Mohamed_Saleh More than 60 percent of the Egyptian population does not have a sewage system and [lives] below the poverty line.

If you accept and are content that Sisi spends one and a half million [Egyptian] pounds on every player in the national team for a ball game... then you do not have the right to complain about the high prices because you deserve what you have.

Giving 1.5 million to every player, and adding 1.5 pounds on to [the price of] every liter of petrol. That's great, it's almost like nothing has happened (the expense is cancelled out).

After the al-Massa Hotel costs 1.2 billion Egyptian pounds, then bonuses are rewarded to each player in the team in excess of of 3 million pounds. And they tell you that "we are really, really poor". I swear this people deserves greater hunger than this. And in the coming period, be ready for very painful economic decisions. Truly a people that deserves the best.

The al-Massa Capital luxury hotel was unveiled on Friday to considerable criticism from Egyptians.

It is located in a new administrative capital that is being built to ease pressure on overpopulated Cairo, construction of which is expected to cost $45 billion.

Meanwhile, food prices have risen 43.6 percent in a year, according to Middle East Eye, with inflation hitting a 30-year high in April at 31.5 percent.

Egypt’s recent financial woes began when the pound was floated in November, seeing its value reduced by almost half in consequence. That was one measure among a number of tax hikes and subsidy cuts required to guarantee a $12 billion IMF loan.




Criticism for excessive spending is not limited to sportspeople and building projects, however. The establishment of Egypt’s new space agency, announced in August 2016, has also angered many in Egypt.

Rather than such flashy projects, it is felt that money would be better spent subsidizing food for the nation’s poor.

Still, not everyone was critical of Sisi’s generous gifts to the national team, with one Twitter user claiming that players had donated the money to charity.

To prevent rumors... Egypt will get 200 million pounds for World Cup... [That] means no loss in giving each player 1.5 million.

For some, the qualification was even evidence of Sisi’s success in office, with "Sisi is the glory of Egypt" trending soon after the qualifying match.


#Congratulations. With #Sisi #Egypt defeats terrorism and virus C, completes the new canal, builds a modern capital, cities and roads and qualifies for the World Cup

Sisi, who seized power in a 2013 military coup, nonetheless remains a contentious figure. Opposed by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, he also faces growing discontent over his handling of the economy, wtih incidents like these not helping to smooth tensions.

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