Samir Zaher, president of the Egyptian Football Association
(EFA), was in Zurich on 29 March 2008 with Hany Abou Rida and Amr
Wahby, EFA board member and head of marketing respectively.
EFA president since 2005, member of the Organising Committee for the FIFA Confederations Cup and the Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee as well as being a well respected businessman in his home country, Mr Zaher discussed a number of points with President Blatter, including the El-Hadary case and the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009. FIFA.com met this dynamic character who is determined to see the Egyptian national team return to former glories at the FIFA World Cup™.
FIFA.com: Mr Zaher, tell us what brings you to
Samir Zaher: I brought a letter to Mr Blatter regarding a very important Egyptian footballing matter, namely Al-Ahly goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary's problematic transfer to FC Sion. This is a crucial case since it could create a legal precedent. Not just for Al-Ahly and not even merely for Egypt but for the entire African continent which would run the risk of suffering a mass exodus of even greater proportions. If we do not find a solution to this case, African clubs will have real problems keeping their players. I am here with FIFA to try to find a solution.
Did you talk about the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009?
Yes, we spoke about the preparations. Various subjects were discussed - the dates for example, since we have to find the ideal time in terms of climate. First and foremost though, I would like to thank President Blatter for what he is doing for African football in general, awarding the World Cup to South African, the U-17 tournament to Nigeria and the U-20s to Egypt. Finally we wanted to invite President Blatter to the inauguration of two artificial pitches as part of the Goal II Project which also has the support of 'Win in Africa, with Africa'.
Was anything else discussed during your meeting?
We spoke about the EFA elections, and I explained to President Blatter that there were no problems and in particular that we were on excellent terms with the Minister for Sport.
Egyptian football is in good shape, both domestically and
internationally. What is the secret?
This is the third Africa Cup of Nations (1998, 2006 and 2008), that 'I' have won, so maybe the country's success has something to do with me ( laughs). Egypt hold the record for the number of Africa Cup of Nations wins with six, that's a fact. The victory in Ghana though was particularly pleasing because I think that we played attractive football, probably the most attractive football of any team on the continent during the competition. In terms of clubs, Al-Ahly has twice qualified for the Club World Cup and Zamalek have a great reputation throughout Africa so yes, Egyptian football is doing very well.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup™is the next big tournament, with Egypt's qualifiers starting at the end of May.
Yes, and since we won the CAN, people in Egypt are expecting the Pharaohs to dazzle in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well, which get underway against Congo DR. Everyone is hoping that Egypt will qualify again for the first time since 1990. How on earth the six-time African champions have failed to qualify for the world's greatest tournament for the past 18 years is a source of great annoyance for the country. In Ghana though, the team proved that they could not only qualify for South Africa but do well once they get there.
And as president of the EFA, what are your main
You can't have the first ever World Cup in Africa without Egypt, one of the best teams in the continent, being there, so my main objective is to have a good team for South Africa 2010. Secondly, I want the U-20 team to be competitive at the World Cup in 2009. Finally, the third aim of my term of office would be to keep Egyptian football in good financial health and to maintain its stability.