From Ahram Online, with a hilarious photo of Egyptian political reality in the national soccer league:
Even the referee is smiling…
For those not knowing the peculiarities of soccer, the only one who knows when the match ends is the referee. Its length is 90 minutes, but the official has discretion to add on ‘extra time’ to make up for time lost to injuries, excessive goal celebrations, etc. To signal an approximation to the players, with a few minutes left before the 90 minute mark, the referee will raise his fingers to indicate how much extra time he will allow.
For those not knowing the peculiarities of Egypt, the hand held aloft with four fingers is the adopted symbol for a mix of protestors who are some variety of pro-Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, anti-army, anti-coup, or sympathetic with the lives lost in August when a protest camp at the ‘Fourth’ Mosque in Cairo was violently dispersed by the government.
Technically, the mosque is named after an 8th Century female Sufi saint, whose first name happens to mean ‘Fourth’.
But raising the four fingers can get one in trouble these days. A few sports figures have been suspended for flashing the sign, following a goal celebration or after a Kung Fu victory.
This referee, apparently, did not want any misunderstandings:
Atef El-Afi, who was refereeing an Egyptian league game between Gouna and El-Entag El-Harby, thought twice about how to signal that four minutes of time added on would be played.
He eventually decided to use both hands to do so, with each making a two-fingered sign.
“There is no place for politics in football. I just didn’t want to be misunderstood,” El-Afi told Egyptian sports website FilGoal.
“None of the Egyptian Football Association officials asked us [referees] to make any certain signs. We just want to avoid using anything that might be interpreted as political signs.”
Oh, and there is also this puppet being investigated as a terrorist mouthpiece, but that is a story for another day…