Even the airing of the match got pulled into politics. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network accused Egypt’s state television of violating its exclusive broadcast rights by airing the match on its terrestrial channel. Egyptian authorities loathe Al-Jazeera for its perceived pro-Brotherhood bias, an accusation the network denies.
State TV chairman Essam el-Ameer insisted it was “our right” to air the match and “we will do it again with any matches we want.”
“We will never surrender the rights of our people,” he told the official Al-Ahram newspaper Wednesday.
The entanglement of sports and politics is not uncommon in this soccer-mad nation. Egypt’s losses to Algeria in qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals sparked a stone-throwing assault on the Algerian Embassy in Cairo and a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
The return leg against Ghana will be played in Egypt on Nov. 19. But the Pharaohs’ coach, American Bob Bradley, admitted that after Tuesday’s heavy loss it was “nearly impossible” for the Egyptians to win a spot in the 2014 finals in Brazil.
The Pharaohs last reached the World Cup finals in 1990.
Egyptians have been desperately looking for something to cheer about after 2 1/2 years of turmoil, including a 2012 soccer riot that killed 74 people.
Tuesday’s lopsided score was all the more painful because it came on the first day of a major Muslim holiday, the Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.
“Ghana slaughters the Pharaohs on Eid al-Adha,” said Al-Ahram al-Masai, alluding to the Islamic tradition of sacrificing a sheep, goat or cow to mark the holiday.