Je Suis (I Am) Membership is the primary soccer crew established initially to struggle sectarian discrimination in opposition to actual abilities in Egypt. Mina Bendary, a Christian soccer participant, is the founding father of the crew. Though Bendary is a proficient soccer participant, he suffered repeated rejections from golf equipment within the Alexandria governorate.
He succeeded in enjoying on the Alexandrian Union Membership in 2015, however he was requested to play underneath the identify “Ibrahim” as a result of Mina is named a Christian identify. He performed with the membership for six months and was registered with the Egyptian Soccer Affiliation.
Bendary instructed Al-Monitor, “The turning level in my life was when my colleagues and the church blamed me for accepting this example (altering my identify), so I made a decision to have my very own crew to embrace the skills of Christian gamers who’re affected by the identical drawback and to assist them observe their goals.”
“This drawback will not be a brand new one; it has been there for many years and there are not any authorized guidelines stating this frankly. Sports activities are supposed to be for all individuals regardless of colour, race, intercourse and even faith,” he mentioned.
He added, “I made a decision to retire enjoying [football], as I refused to play for a membership underneath one other identify. After which I considered establishing a brand new membership that doesn’t have tight constraints to hitch.”
Je Suis Membership was established in 2016 to assist primarily Christians to play soccer with none obstacles and in order that they’ll preserve their names and identities. However afterward, it additionally opened the door for Muslims who had bother getting on to one of many major groups within the league.
The crew additionally attracted ladies who play within the Church buildings Soccer League — a pleasant, symbolic league by which the church buildings’ groups compete in opposition to one another. These feminine gamers additionally wished to have extra outstanding possibilities to point out their abilities. Not too long ago, in December 2020, the U20 Girls’s Egyptian Nationwide Soccer Group was subjected to a wave of bullying and sexual harassment on social media platforms after their victory in a match in opposition to the Lebanese nationwide crew.
The primary Egyptian soccer golf equipment comparable to El-Zamalek, El-Ahly, El-Ismaili, the Alexandrian Union and others have solely Muslim gamers amongst their groups. Je Suis Membership has to make a take care of one of many major golf equipment registered with the Egyptian Soccer Affiliation (EFA) to play underneath its identify within the 4th degree Egyptian League. The Egyptian League solely permits golf equipment which might be registered within the EFA to play within the league, so Je Suis Membership has to discover a registered crew to play with within the league. Golf equipment comparable to Egyptian Alexandrian Membership Victoria and Yousr Alexandria obtain a sure amount of cash to let the gamers of Je Suis Membership play underneath their umbrella. If any membership receives a prize or monetary reward, it won’t be divided between it and Je Suis.
“I’m dreaming of the day that I get my membership formally registered and well-known amongst individuals. I’ve been enjoying for 3 years underneath the umbrella of different golf equipment within the league, and I can’t obtain an acceptable monetary reward to develop my crew,” Bendary mentioned.
Forming a membership is an extended journey requiring some huge cash and energy. In response to Article 106 of Sports activities Legislation No. 71 of 2017, the membership should have a minimal of 100 members, a hard and fast headquarters and locations appropriate for actions; the full space of the membership have to be greater than 1,500 sq. meters.
The month-to-month charge required to hitch the crew is 150 Egyptian kilos (round $9) from every participant. The charges assist to pay for court docket rental prices and tools. Je Suis Membership has not acquired any funds from a church or authorities entity because it was shaped. It initially kicked off with solely 20 gamers and now contains practically 140 gamers. The 20 who performed as soon as the crew was established have been from the Alexandria governorate. After that, the popularity of the membership inspired Christian candidates from different governorates throughout Egypt to hitch in and chase their goals.
Mina Samir, who performs with Je Suis Membership, instructed Al-Monitor, “I began to lose my ardour for soccer — which is an important factor in my life — due to the a number of rejections I acquired from completely different golf equipment. The issue begins once they hear my identify, which is thought to be Christian. Je Suis was a brand new ray of hope for me, and it gave me the possibility to play within the league. Nonetheless, there are numerous rights that we require.”
Though Christians are gaining extra rights in Egypt — primarily in parliament and authorities, amongst different sectors — they proceed to face some difficulties and discrimination in sports activities.