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Hull City's Signing of Amr Zaki Sends the Wrong Message

Egyptian international striker Amr Zaki has officially signed on a loan deal to Hull City from Egyptian side El Zamelek. The deal, which holds until the end of the season, looks like a shrewd signing for the Tigers.  At just a measly 20 league goals, Hull city are the fourth lowest scoring team in the premiership, narrowly edging out Stoke City, Portsmouth and Wolves. Their league position reflects their inability to score, as they sit in the 18th spot, entrenched in what appears to be a long, arduous relegation battle.

Zaki is a proven goal scorer, netting 10 in 29 league appearances for Wigan in the 2008-09 season, and this could be exactly what Phil Brown needs to get his team out of drop zone and save his managerial position. Additionally, Hull City could be losing some of their strikers this January window, as chairman of the club Adam Pearson has asked Brown to shed nine million pounds from the wage bill. Brown has admitted this likely means allowing strikers Caleb Folan and Daniel Cousin to leave.

However, all this ignores his myriad of disgusting off the field issues. Zaki has proved from his spell at Wigan he has no commitment to the team. On four separate occasions, he failed to return to Wigan by the scheduled deadline after an international break , infuriating then Wigan boss Steve Bruce. Not only does this violate team rules, but, as Zaki had no connection with the club, he violated the FA’s doping policy that requires players to state their whereabouts one hour each day. Moreover, international and club teammate Mido returned to England in time for the deadline.

Zaki then complained that he was getting treatment for a hamstring injury. When asked to provide a note from Egyptian team doctors, he refused. When asked to show up to the club’s doctors for a scan and assessment, he refused again.

All this prompted Bruce is to say, “I really am at the end of my tether with him. Before this latest incident, Zaki had already been fined considerably more than the average person in Britain earns in a year and he will now face another heavy fine.” He continues, “I just feel it’s time that we went public on just what a nightmare he has been to deal with because I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone as unprofessional.”

Unfortunately, this is the least worrisome of his issues.

After Bruce understandably ruled out extending the deal, Zaki turned elsewhere for loans. Portsmouth was the first and most appealing option to reveal interest over the summer. Much like the Hull, Pompey struggles to find the back of the net and, on paper, a deal made sense. After a brief courtship, the player refused a transfer on the sickening grounds that he could not play with Pompey’s Jewish and Algerian players, Tal Ben Haim and Nadir Belhadj.

He is quoted as saying, “I refused their offer before, but now joining Portsmouth is no longer an option for me. After Portsmouth signed an Israeli player and also hired an Israeli football director [Avram Grant], a possible move was ruled out.  On top of that, no way could I play at Portsmouth with an Algerian within their ranks.” Since the quote, Portsmouth have added another Algerian, Hassan Yebda, and promoted Avram Grant to gaffer, so one can only imagine what Zaki has to say about it now.

The most disappointing aspect of this whole thing, beyond the discouraging realization that prejudice, discrimination, and antisemitism are still so prevalent in society today, is that it completely undermines FIFA and the FA’s Football Against Racism in Europe campaign, launched back in Vienna in 1999. Plastered around the premiership grounds are billboards bearing FIFA’s slogan of  “Say no to Racism.” It is such a cornerstone of FIFA policy that the EA Sports crew have even included it in their FIFA video games.

This is the same slogan that Zaki himself held up before every single international match with his Egyptian side. What kind of message does that send? How can anyone watching a Hull City game take that billboard seriously when they see as bigoted a human being as Amr Zaki playing on the pitch in front of the slogan? How can anyone take it seriously when one of the top flight teams in England vigorously pursues this player, knowing full well his prejudiced views? How are we supposed to look at the FA’s attempts to quell racism with supporters when they turn a blind eye towards racism in players?

It’s a depressing situation and one that hopefully the FA addresses head on one way or another, rather than beating around the bush. While it may be unfair to root against Hull, I’ll certainly be rooting against Amr Zaki.

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  1. abdelaziz

    February 18, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Congratulations to Amr for the professional

  2. East Stand Tiger

    February 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Well you might learn something about the middle east if you read some of the comments , you certainly know nothing about Hull City , Adam Pearson , Phil Brown and Amr Zaki .

    Altidore was fantastic today , Zaki looks like he needs to work on his fitness but his ability is unquestionable .

    Keep politics out of football .

  3. Bob

    February 5, 2010 at 5:29 am

    I agree with Zaki’s comments if they represent resistance to the Israeli destruction of Palestine, but I definitely don’t approve of his apparent refusal to play with Algerians. That’s just nonsense. Anyway, he must have changed his mind to some extent, given that Kamel Ghilas is Algerian.
    The rubbish spouted about Hull City from non-City fans demonstrates a total lack of appreciation of the huge achievement of Hull City AFC reaching the Premier League. I’d hate to support a team like Chelsea – so boring and all about the money.
    Up the roaring Tigers.

  4. micheal smith

    February 5, 2010 at 3:33 am

    i love egypt and i love amr zaki so much ‘ great player ‘ really he is.. i hope he will do his best and make us be sure he is still great as we saw him with wigan

  5. mohamed helaly

    January 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    zaki is sorry for what he had done and i heard him in a tvshow saying that he will do his best not to do is previous mistake again and will do his best to be one of the best players in english league again.

  6. Tamer Abouzeid

    January 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Yes, because all EPL players are such tolerant, lovely people. Kiss my arse.

  7. Abdulrhman Al-Ali

    January 21, 2010 at 6:08 am



  8. Maestro

    January 21, 2010 at 4:12 am

    What a load of bs. Fair play? Anti-racism? Wake up man. Are u living in heaven man? As far as algerians and egyptians go, they have football related scuffles its historic, derby type hatred and violence nothing uncommon in the world of football, and with the coming of the ultras in both nations things got excessively violent, which they shouldn’t have. I agree with u its an immature statement on that part and was amidst the heat of the situation that was over dramatised and blown out of proportion by the media of both countries, like two brothers that can’t stand each other for the moment but i’m sure he’ll get on fine with Gillas. As for the Isreali comment, what happened to freedom of speech. You obviously have no idea of what the Isreali State has been doing to the Arab people over the last decade and that’s why i find your commentary to suffer some major ignorance and possibly bias. Millions of Arab children, women, and elders have been mass murdered, raped, humilated, bombarded by Isreali OCCUPATION, so fair enough if the guy doesn’t wanna play for an Isreali coach. I’m pretty sure Avram Grant has nothing to do with that, or maybe he does, but it doesn’t change the fact that Zaki is entitled to his view. And why the hell are you criticizing him then? Are you entitled to your view and he is not. You think he shouldn’t play in the epl because he is anti-Semitic and racist and you publish an article attacking him, yet he is not allowed to choose the coach he has to obey and play under because he is from a nation that murdered thousands of his brothers, both muslim and christian. How about Giggs fingering Tevez, should he be banned from the EPL too, or the Man utd fans and Man city fans chucking things at each other, should they be banned from watching football? First get your facts straight, second read a little history, 3rd look up what anti-semitism means, fourth identify Zaki in that picture above, fifth prove that Zaki said what you claimed he said, and last but not least in my opinion (which i’m entitled to) don’t post any more posts with a political or racial agenda, specially if that is what you are preaching. It only makes the wounds deeper.

  9. Mohammed

    January 21, 2010 at 1:39 am

    With all due respect and appreciation to you all, may you have received is that he does not want to play because of their nationality or race or religion?! It’s their actions, whether Israeli or she Algerian heinous acts that they were doing their own government, it can be for you not taking action on these things you do ((professionally)) What is professionalism for you to kill an innocent child, and to play football with you? To insult my mother and give you a long hug? Go to a player with you ((professionally)) in the Sudan and come as you are with knives, guns and Groups Attack us and to isolate the masses who had come to watch their team play ((professionally!!!)) These are the Israelis and those are the Al-gerians ??!!!!

  10. ressi

    January 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    There is a huge difference between antisemitism and anti-Israeli, what was quoted means he does not appreciate Israel’s actions as a political nation state probably because of its continuous human violations, aggression, oppression and racism against Arabs and Palestinians. The Algerian issue is put out of context here, the background is obviously linked to the political tension between Egypt and Algeria after violence erupted during their world cup tie-breaker in Khartoum and has nothing to do with race. Get your facts straight or save us the pain of having to read misleading mumbo-jumbo.

  11. Leon

    January 20, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    As a Jew and a Hull City fan I must say that I don’t much care. Would Zaki be the first person ever to don the Amber and Black that didn’t care for Jews? Of course not. Saying his feelings openly makes him a fool and a poor scholar of Islam, which is more tolerant of Jews than whatever interpretation he’s come up with. I’ll cheer if he scores and also take the opportunity to talk about what a moron he is with anyone I’m with. But he’s paid to kick a ball, who bloody cares what’s in his head.

    • Adam

      January 24, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Good point Leon. I’m a Muslim, and lets look at Zaki as a player only. I’ve watched many games for him, and he’s talented, but not a smart person. When it comes to media, he totally lacks intelligence in dealing with it.

      By the way, Zaki is not religious, and I do not expect that he knows much about politics. I get worried when I find smart folks saying racist stuff; but when it comes from Zaki, my worry is less.

      Anyways, I believe Zaki will be a success with Hull as a player.

  12. Gunner

    January 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    To be honest ull fans shoud be happy for this great signing Amir Zaki is too big to play for Hull.Let’s wait 6 months when Zaki leave to a bigger team Hull is just like a bus stop for Zaki.

  13. IanCransonsKnees

    January 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    If hull get Mido & Zaki they’ll go top ten! You must be pissed.

  14. Ben

    January 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Ahh, freedom of speech. You got to love it.

  15. Abdulrhman Al-Ali

    January 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    What about the racism of Avram Grant himself when he keeps Belhadj on the bench while he`s the best player in Portsmouth? what about the racist comments that Mido suffered from Newcastle fans? nobody talks when it`s for the benefit of Muslim players.. we have many Christian players in Kuwait (my beloved country) and those players can cross however they want and nobody even talks BUT when Muntari and Keita prostrate in Europe u will make it the judgement day!
    Alas, i hope you all change ur perspective about Islam, it is a great religion especially when u know the real meanings of Islam.. Zaki is saying what he`s feeling.. there must be NO relationship between a Muslim and an Israeli.. oh, it will be when Israel leaves the beloved Palestine.. it`s no good watching the innocent palestinian kids get killed and their weak women get rapped and be silent..

  16. Abdulrhman Al-Ali

    January 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Mohammed (PBUH) once had a jewish neighbour and he treated him gently and respectly BUT it differs a lot between being a jewish and between being an israeli..
    that is the point that western ppl don`t understand about Muslims.. what are u waiting Zaki to say while he`s witnessing what Israli doing for poor Palestinian..
    i have all the respect of the world for good ppl whatever their religion is BUT i have nothing to share with invaders.. PROUD TO BE MUSLIM & PROUD TO BE MUNTARI`S #1 FAN

  17. Abdulrhman Al-Ali

    January 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    well, if u refuse what Zaki said why didn u accept Ronaldinho`s words when he said that Palestinian kids are the terrorists of the future of when Panstil raised the Israeli flag? why did you support what is against Islam even if it`s bad or wrong? I believe that every Jewish hate Muslims.. but i will support Zaki for what he`s said even though Avram Grant`s mum is from Iraq !!

  18. Andrew

    January 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Aside from Zaki being a head case, I think Paul Brown has another issue. He keeps brining in forwards, but from the games I’ve watched, his biggest problem is the mid-field. There is NO mid-field control and passing to set-up their existing forwards. I’ve seen games where no matter who was up front they had nothing to work with the entire game. The mid-field is non-existent.

  19. dbm

    January 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I think Hull is aware of Zaki and his past troubles. It will be interesting to see if Zaki gets out of line again and if Phil Brown has the backbone to do anything about it.

  20. ELSA

    January 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Zaki is the best , and what he said we all agree with him Go zaki Go pharaohs

  21. Jason Gatties

    January 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Great job Eric. One of the best commentaries in a long time here at EPL Talk.

  22. Ben

    January 20, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Or perhaps we can stop making excuses for his deplorable comments.

  23. Zakiisaworldclassplayer

    January 20, 2010 at 10:25 am

    To understand Zaki’s comments, you have to understand the context in which he made these comments. It is NOT about about the Arab-Israeli conflict like you quickly rush to claim…! Why is your fuse so short?

  24. Ben

    January 20, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I don’t see the rest of this comment section ending well. Can we please not use this as a forum to discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict.

  25. Zakiisaworldclassplayer

    January 20, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Zaki is a world class player who was the leading scorer in what everyone agrees to be the best football league in the world. He was on a roll ahead of the likes of Drogba, Rooney, Torres, Adebayor, Van Persie name it ..until he suffered an injury in the winter season which was the first of its kind for Zaki in his entire life – as a result of the severe cold which he had not witnessed anything like in the past. He has never been given a fair chance to recover fully from that injury, and if you ever played the game (and I did semi-professionally in the past and still do), you would know darn well that hamstring injuries need time to fully heal. No one, I mean no one has given Zaki a true fair chance to recover and continue on his dangerous scoring streak which he could have done if he were given the right kind of care and attention. Instead, all blood suckers out there dumped him including his own club Wigan and humiliated him …until now when many teams are suffering from having too many players injured or cannot score goals and then what happens?..they come looking for Zaki again..where was everyone before today???

    As for Zaki’s comments about not wanting to play with Israelis or Algerians, he did not want to play with Israelis (not Jewish) because everyone in the world (especially Arab World) knows what Israel has done and continues to do to the Palestinians – ongoing slaughter and rape of a whole nation). Zaki was angry at the Algerians for playing with the Israelis – nothing more. He will play with Kamel Gillas without any problems and will be like brothers on the field. Give Zaki his chance, take care of him, mentor him and guide him in the right direction, and he will give you GOALS, lots of GOALS.

    Watch Hull City finish in the top 10. If Mido joins Zaki too then watch out (Mido wants to prove himself as well) – now you got 2 weapons that, along with the solid defense & Midfield, Hull can beat any team in my opinion. Time will tell.

    Go Zaki! Go Hull City !

  26. M.KH

    January 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Me as an Egyptian i see that Amr Zaki is a good player but he is not professional when dealing with Media!! he is a good player ,fighter. but not a brilliant person. so we have to judge him this time with Hull city.

  27. Eitan

    January 20, 2010 at 8:24 am

    anyone who says I won’t play somewhere because there are people from other countries there (who he’s never met), is a total asshole.

    i hope he gets a very painful career ending injury, and then loses all his money in bad real estate investments.

  28. The Font of Knowledge

    January 20, 2010 at 7:04 am

    FIFA do fook all to combat racism baring some cop out banners which they get the players to stand behind. Take the punishment of Spain & Slovakia in recent years when black England players have been raciailly abused while on international duty in these countries. Spain got fined £44,000 (pathetic) and Slovakia £27,000 (even more pathetic). How can anyone take the “Kick it out campaign” serious if joke punishments are given. I would suggest you vent your anger at FIFA and do some research into their failings at combating racism instead of an avergae lippy player who was never proven to have said such remarks.

  29. TigerPhil

    January 20, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Did anyone actually video him making these remarks? Things can quite easily be twisted around.

    We have an Algerian in our squad. (Kamel Ghilas). I am sure that if he was as such a biggot as you are making out here Messers Brown and Pearson would not touch him with a barge pole. As for the really nice comments earlier- ngog- you are an idiot. Dawson is one of the nicest guys you would ever like to meet. I assume you are a Liverpool fan- it is really great watching your lot strugle so badly all season HAHAHAHAHA- see other people can say the same things about your squad of overpaid losers…

  30. SamSpur

    January 20, 2010 at 4:04 am

    just a side note for accuracy…Zaki wasn’t in Egypt’s Confed Cup squad (replaced due to injury). Would be nice if you removed that paragraph about holding up the no racism sign, since it’s all predicated on the fact he was there…

    • Eric Truog

      January 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

      Good catch. Thanks a lot, I forgot Zidan filled in for him.

  31. James

    January 20, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I think Adam Pearson and Phil Brown will have made the disciplinary side of things quite clear to Zaki. I am absolutely against racism in sport, or anywhere else for that matter. Zaki’s comments are regrettable. But Hull City Football Club have taken a risk on him and now we have to see if the player responds. Hope he finds his sense of humour, ‘cos with JB around he’s gonna need it! The media pressure will be intense and it’s going to be a huge test for the lad. It may be making of him, or it may backfire badly. Time will tell. Ask the Hull City fnas and most of them will say it’s a risk worth taking. I hope so!

    • Jesse

      January 20, 2010 at 7:38 am

      I’m going to have to agree with James on this one. Let’s keep in mind that football is a business and Adam Pearson and Phil Brown both have alot on the line this year as Hull City face relegation. They need goals.

      Has anyone kept an open mind through all this and realized that maybe us football fans don’t have the entire story? Like James said, how do we know the suits at HC didn’t sit Zaki down and discuss his actions from last year? – Then giving him an exact blueprint on how he’s to behave while at HC. ????

      Sure, Zaki is probably a loudmouth, bonehead, etc., etc., – call him what you will. But he’s also a proven goal scorer in the best football league in the world. HC need goals – Period!

      I admire readers of EPL Talk who have taken a stand against racisim and trust me, I’m right there with you, and I agree that his comments are shocking and have no place in football. Thank you for letting your voice be heard, but it’s too early to write off a footballer and a football club on comments that were made a year ago and could have been taken out of context. We all know footballers aren’t the most well spoken individuals.

      Also, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Time will tell if Zaki belongs in the Premier League, ultimately his form will speak louder than any comments. If he says anything else of a racist nature, sure, he should go, and I’ll be the first to report it. But for now, HC have taken a calulated risk on a player that needs to watch his mouth and focus on his football.

  32. Bryan Widebottom

    January 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

    “Doesn’t sound good at all. What’s he going to do when he finds Algerian international Kamel Ghilas at Hull City? “.. Ho ho, thumbs up!

    re: history between Egypt and Israel. Zaki might want to brush up on his as Egypt made peace with Israel and is the Arab world ‘bedfellow’ of Israel.

    Nice article, no place for jerks like this. Kick racism out of football.

  33. Steve

    January 20, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Quote says israeli, who knows might have been a diferent story if Woody Allen was manager of portsmouth..

  34. brn442

    January 20, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Did he say he refused to play with the players because they were “Jewish” or because they were “Israeli” ?

  35. Steve

    January 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    To be fair the israelis and the muslims(which egypt is predominately) aren’t really the biggest fans of each other for political reasons, so dont think it can be marked down to blatant racism. Wouldn’t exactly see any israelis rushing to play their football in egypt or the middle east.

    He was also quoted right after a group of Algerian fans attacked a bus full of Egyptians during their WC qualifying playoff.

    Bigoted Racist is a bit full and a bit unfair but he is certainly a loadmouth and a bit of a tit.

    Could be a great signing for hull or there could be world war 3..

    • Tom Hingley

      January 20, 2010 at 7:24 am


      It was the Algerian bus that was attacked by Egyptians!

  36. Brad in SoCal

    January 19, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    As a Hull supporter, I guess I’m biased, unlike the obviously impartial comments above, but I give PB credit for thinking outside the box on this one. Zaki clearly has baggage, but are we really all that surprised that an Egyptian would have issues with Israelis and Algerians? Of course his comments as reported are boorish and insensitive, but he’s not a diplomat, he’s a footballer! Maybe he’s grown up a little since last year at Wigan, and realized he has to change his ways. Or maybe not–we’ll see. Hull sure needs goals if they are to stay up. We seem to forgive our athletes a lot if they’re successful. Give him his shot.

    • Eric Truog

      January 20, 2010 at 9:58 am

      I guess my issue is with the fact that he’s never even met these people before. He’s decided he doesn’t want to play with them solely on their nationality.

      Granted, Egyptians and Israeli’s have a bloody history together and their relationship at the moment is strained. But so is the relationship between the USA citizens and the people of the Middle East. Imagine, for a second, that there was a Middle Eastern player in Everton’s squad and Landon Donovan had refused the loan deal because he didn’t want to play with any Arabs? How would that have looked? It would have looked absolutely awful and bigoted. I’m sure that would have been a media explosion, especially if he framed his comments the way Zaki has. Frankly, I fail to see how these two situations differ. As you say, he’s a footballer not a politician so why make try to represent your views on international politics in your team selection?

      • brn442

        January 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

        Eric, I think your comaparsons are a bit off. The middleeastern conflict is a bit more complicated. However, if he did say what you said he did – that would still be deplorable, if he said “because they were Jewish” then that’s indeed racist.

  37. Cameron

    January 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    He could’nt even act professional in his home country, which is why Al-Zamelek(SP? sorry :() are shipping him out. I wonder if he will ever be able to turn a new leaf and become a true professional.

  38. Jon

    January 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Doesn’t sound good at all. What’s he going to do when he finds Algerian international Kamel Ghilas at Hull City?

  39. ngog

    January 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Definitely another reason to hope for Hull to go down. And go down they will! With a team filled with Stephen Hunt, Craig Fagan, Amir Zaki, McShane, Giovanni, and Dawson (plus Phil Brown) it’s quite easy to root for them to lose 3-0 every weekend.

  40. Alex

    January 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Spot on – how someone of that stature can be employed in such a fantastic league and paid so well with supporters’ money is beyond me!!

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