29-year-old Mohamed El-Shenawy, the goalkeeper of Egypt team, declined the ‘Man of the Match’ award as it conflicted with his religious beliefs. The trophy, which is shaped like a red goblet, was sponsored by beer giant Budweiser. Egypt team director Ihab Leheta confirmed to AP that though El-Shenawy posed for photographs in a brief post-match ceremony, he refused to accept the goblet.
“It is up to each one,” he said.
El-Shenawy won the award for his impressive performance in the FIFA World Cup match against Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg on June 15 where Egypt lost to the Latin American country by 1-0. El-Shenawy made every attempt to deny Uruguay any early goals but Jose Giminez broke through Egypt’s defences and scored in the 89th minute. Although Uruguay won the match, social media was abuzz with celebrating Mohamed El-Shenawy’s saves.
NO TO ALCOHOL!!! Total respect for @ElShenawy the @Pharaohs Egyptian team goalkeeper for saying No to #Budweiser sponsor of Fifa World Cup man of the match Award. #AlcoholKills pic.twitter.com/s9E4NP1gSk
— MDL SHOW (@_MohamedDiallo) June 16, 2018
The Egyptian goalkeeper’s photo of refusing to take the MOTM award also went viral.
#Egypt goalkeeper #MohamedElShenawy refused to accept the man of the match award for his heroics against Uruguay, snubbing the accolade because of its sponsors, alcohol giant Budweiser.
[Thank you BOSS. May Allah bless you]#Bible said no alcohol and #Quran said no alcohol pic.twitter.com/ZH44gkW5WC
— JAHIR RINKU (@JAHIR_RINKU) June 17, 2018
Though this is not the first time that an award sponsored by an alcoholic beverage maker was declined. In 2012, Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure did not accept the MOTM award in the form of champagne after a British Premier League match. After the incident, the league changed the design of the award. However, FIFA as such has no such policy for members of all-Muslim squad regarding prizes linked to alcohol.
Egypt is playing their first World Cup since 1990 and is not the only Muslim-majority country playing in the tournament, others being Saudi Arabia, Iran, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia. Egypt will play their next match against Russia on June 19 and against Saudi Arabia on June 25.
(Written by Abhijeet Ghumman)