Egypt blames loss on 'robbery'

THE Egyptian national team delegation has described as shameful and disgraceful media reports that players who were robbed in their hotel rooms had been entertaining sex workers.

THE Egyptian national team delegation has described as shameful and disgraceful media reports that players who were robbed in their hotel rooms had been entertaining sex workers.

"It is completely out of track ... We come from a very religious country and our players are very disciplined and religious," said Mahmoud Taher, the country's head of delegation.

Taher was addressing media at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton yesterday.

Weekend newspapers reported that some Egyptian players had celebrated their win against Italy by taking sex workers to their rooms at the Protea Hotel Wanderers.

The sex workers are alleged to have then cleaned out the players, taking their money and valuables.

The robbery incident, believed to have happened while the team was busy playing against Italy, has been blamed for the team's 3-0 loss against the US on Sunday.

"The reports were published before the game, and the players had to hear about them from people back home. Due to our culture in Egypt, they [players] have been subjected to a very bad image. The reports affected the game ... the players," Taher said.

CCTV cameras at the hotel, Taher said, would absolve the players.

"There are CCTV cameras in the hotel ... police know who went into the hotel and when. They said four people went into the rooms and are being investigated," he said.

He could, however, not be drawn to speculate on why Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula had made an incriminating statement at a media briefing earlier on, saying police could not be blamed for incidents where players took people to their hotel rooms.

"If you bring people into the hotel as friends, you must bear responsibility to them. So if you invite people who turn out to be security-unfriendly, then it is unfortunate because we can't follow you up until your room," Mbalula told a media briefing yesterday. - Sapa

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