Egypt's Greece-based midfielder Amr Warda was thrown out of the national squad on Wednesday over disciplinary issues, the country's football governing body announced. His expulsion came just hours before the Pharaohs were due to take on DR Congo in their Group A match in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Warda, 25, who plays his club football in Greece's top-tier side Atromitos, was kicked out of the camp following accusations by a Dubai-based Egyptian model that he had harassed her in online exchanges last week. He denied any wrongdoing.
The incident, which has dominated social media in Egypt for days, earned Warda a warning by team officials, according to local media reports, and was thought to have been laid to rest until a video clip surfaced online on Tuesday night purporting to show the player engaging in a sexual act with an unidentified woman.
Warda, according to local TV sports channels, claimed that the video was filmed a "long time ago" and should not be used to judge his conduct while in camp with the Pharaohs for the ongoing tournament.
The model, identified by numerous news and television outlets by one name, Mirihan, wrote online that Warda used threatening language when she rejected his advances.
"I know how to get your number. You don't know who you [are] dealing with. No one brushes me off," she quoted him as writing to her late one night last week.
Warda, who came in as a second-half substitute in Egypt's 1-0 win against Zimbabwe in the tournament's opener last Friday, has faced allegations of sexual harassment in Greece and during a short stint in Portugal.
Alluding to the allegations against him, a satirical cartoon published online this week depicted him lifting a female medic's skirt and looking underneath it while leaving a football pitch on a stretcher. "Warda when he's injured!" the caption read.
His expulsion from the team was announced in a brief statement by the Egyptian Football Federation. It said the decision to release him followed a meeting between chairman Hany Abu Reeda and team officials. The decision to expel him, it said, was taken in the "framework of maintaining the team's discipline, commitment and concentration". It made no mention of the model's incident or the video clip.
Hosts Egypt are seeking to win the Africa Cup of Nations for a record-extending eighth time. They last won the cup in 2010 and did not qualify for the bi-annual tournament between then and 2017, when they were beaten in the final by Cameroon.
Warda's expulsion has showcased the disciplinary problems suffered by the Pharaohs. The team's star, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, has exposed the chaos and lack of discipline that prevailed in the squad's camp in Russia during last year's World Cup. He spoke of fans gaining access to the players' hotel rooms late at night to meet and take photos with them.
Other players anonymously spoke of TV crews roaming the team's Russia hotel freely at night to interview players in exchange for money paid by a regional TV network.
Egypt, marking their first trip to the World Cup since 1990, lost all three of their group matches in Russia.