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Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 12:32 UK

Egypt threatens legal action

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Egypt players
The Egyptian players were robbed as they beat world champions Italy

The Egypt Football Association (EFA) has threatened legal action against some South African newspapers over lurid allegations about the Pharaohs.

Three papers ran stories suggesting that last week's theft at Egypt's team hotel happened when prostitutes hired by five players later took the money.

But the head of the EFA's delegation at the Confederations Cup Mahmoud Taher says the reports are wide off the mark.

"We completely reject everything published in the papers," Taher said.

"It is shameful, disgraceful and totally off-track.

"We are demanding an official apology from the newspapers that published all the false allegations. Otherwise, we are going for legal action."

In South Africa to contest the Confederations Cup, the African champions are believed to have been playing, and beating, Italy in Johannesburg at the time of Thursday's burglary.

The Egyptian delegation was so keen to address the issue it staged a hurriedly-improvised news conference shortly before departing South Africa on Monday night.

The matter is now in the hands of Egypt's ambassador in South Africa, whose World Cup CEO reserved praise for the North Africans.

"It's an unfortunate incident but you leave this country with your integrity intact," said Danny Jordaan.

"We hope to welcome you back next year for the World Cup."

This weekend's allegations were swiftly picked up in Egypt, where a vehement backlash against the players ensued - even from some of their partners.

Mahmoud Taher
We come from a very religious country, our players are very religious and very disciplined

Mahmoud Taher, Egypt head of delegation

"We come from a very religious country, our players are very religious, very disciplined and what was published has really hurt them back home," Taher added.

"Due to our culture, the players have been subjected to terrible damage in Egypt and they're in a very bad mood right now."

The Egyptians have now been informed that four employees at the Protea Wanderers hotel are currently under investigation.

The hotel's computerised system allows the police, who have possession of the building's CCTV tapes, to know who went into each room and when.

The theft of some US$2,400 was discovered shortly after the Pharaohs returned to their hotel after humbling world champions Italy 1-0 at Ellis Park.

And the newspaper allegations were blamed, albeit alongside injuries and fatigue, for Egypt's early exit from the tournament after losing 3-0 to the United States on Sunday.

"Unfortunately the players heard about it back home and it made a heavy impact," explained Taher.

"We tried our best to get them out of this mood but the whole team is in a very bad psychological state because of what happened."

The Egyptians were keen to stress their enjoyment of South Africa despite the incident.

"The 2010 World Cup will be an honour for all Africa not just South Africa," said Taher.

"We're here to support South Africa for 2010 and want to make everything easier, but unfortunately it went another way because of the press."

A spokeswoman for the South African Police Service (SAPS) said they were investigating the case and would not release any details until the probe was concluded.

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see also
Exhausted Egypt blame schedule
22 Jun 09 |  African
Egypt suffer Confed Cup theft
19 Jun 09 |  African
Egypt 1-0 Italy
18 Jun 09 |  Internationals
What is the Confederations Cup?
12 Jun 09 |  Internationals

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