CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities confiscated some assets of the nation's most popular soccer player over his suspected links to the country's banned Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, an official said Friday.
The decision was made by a judicial committee tracking the money trail of the Brotherhood — from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails — against Mohammed Abu Trika's tour company, the official said.
The committee ordered the Central Bank to freeze bank accounts of Abu Trika's company, said the official, adding that the rest of the soccer star's wealth has not been touched. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The 36-year-old Abu Trika — "The Magician" as his fans called him — is now retired, after playing for the popular club Al-Ahly. He was named Africa star four times in the past years.
He has been known with his nationalist stances that only added to his popularity. In 2008, when Palestinians in the Gaza Strip broke through the fence separating them from Egypt, he pulled off his team's red shirt to show a white one underneath, with the words "Sympathize with Gaza" printed on it.
On his Facebook page, Abu Trika commented on the asset confiscation by posting: "I will not leave the country."
The committee's decision was widely criticized on social networking sites, where some activists launched an on-line campaign dubbed "Abu-Trika is a red line."
After Morsi's ouster in 2013, the Egyptian government branded the Brotherhood a terrorist organization and ordered confiscation of its assets, closing down dozens of medical centers and schools in addition to freezing accounts of its top leaders and members. Most of the group's leaders are either in exile or behind bars on charges of orchestrating violence.