In recent weeks, the Egyptian wrestling community has been abuzz with speculation and curiosity surrounding the sudden departure of Ahmed Baghdoda, a 21-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler who
made headlines after winning a silver medal at the African Wrestling Championships held in Tunisia. Baghdoda’s unexpected decision to leave for Europe shortly after his victory left many questioning his motives and the circumstances that led to his departure.
However, in a much-anticipated video released on his official Facebook page, Baghdoda finally broke his silence, addressing his family, fans, and the public at large.
Gratitude Expressed towards President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
One of the primary topics of discussion surrounding Baghdoda’s departure was the question of why he left the national team camp in Tunisia and headed to Europe, with France being the most likely destination according to Egyptian Wrestling Federation officials.
In his heartfelt video message, Baghdoda expressed his gratitude to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for his intervention in the matter. The President instructed the National Training Academy (NTA) to extend a training and rehabilitation grant to Baghdoda, recognizing his potential and the need to support talented athletes like him.
Financial Pressures and Ill-Treatment Allegations
While Baghdoda did not explicitly confirm the financial issues and ill-treatment allegations that supposedly drove him to leave the national team camp, he did provide some insight into the challenges he faced. Addressing his father in the video, Baghdoda acknowledged the sacrifices his family had made for his athletic pursuits and highlighted the financial burdens they had endured.
He expressed his awareness of the hardships his father faced in order to support his education, travel, and essential expenses, stating that he had grown into a compassionate and empathetic individual.
The athlete’s father, Fouad Baghdoda, had previously voiced his concerns about the lack of financial support from the Egyptian Wrestling Federation over the past year. He described the pressure his son had faced as “unbearable,” shedding light on the struggles Ahmed had endured due to inadequate financial backing. These revelations raised questions about the federation’s responsibility to its athletes and its duty to provide the necessary support for their development and success.
Divided Opinions and the Love for Egypt
Social media platforms became a battleground for diverse opinions following Baghdoda’s departure. Users were divided, with some speculating that he had left to pursue his dreams in France, while others labeled him a “runaway.”
In response to these accusations, Baghdoda passionately declared his love for Egypt, emphasizing that it was his birthplace and where he intended to remain. He also highlighted the immense talent present in Egypt and stressed the importance of supporting and treating athletes well to unlock their full potential.
While the wrestler did not disclose his current location or reveal his plans regarding his future involvement with the national team, he expressed his gratitude to the Egyptian people for their unwavering support.
Baghdoda acknowledged their role in his journey and requested their prayers during this uncertain period. His words resonated with the Egyptian public, who continued to show their solidarity and encouragement.
Efforts to Retain Baghdoda within the National Team
In the wake of Baghdoda’s departure, the Egyptian Wrestling Federation took swift action, referring the matter to the Public Prosecution for investigation.
Additionally, they maintained communication with the United World Wrestling to ensure that Baghdoda would remain a part of the Egyptian national team, in compliance with relevant regulations. Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi directed the formation of a ministerial committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding Baghdoda’s departure from the national wrestling mission camp.
Financial Compensation Clarified by the Ministry of Finance
The issue of financial compensation has been a significant point of contention in Baghdoda’s case. In a television interview, his father disclosed the financial pressures his son had faced, stating that he received a mere fraction of his total compensation due to various deductions.
The Ministry of Finance subsequently issued a statement clarifying that Baghdoda’s compensation amounted to EGP 18,000 ($582) before deductions, representing his six-month salary. They explained that tax deductions accounted for 13 percent of the compensation, while an additional amount was withheld for transfer fees related to Baghdoda’s relocation to the sport ministry’s national talent project.
The ministry further highlighted that the transfer fees were deferred until Baghdoda received his financial compensation to alleviate any immediate burden. This clarification aimed to address the concerns raised by the athlete’s family and shed light on the financial aspects of his departure.
Social Media Debate and Support for Baghdoda
As the news of Baghdoda’s departure spread, social media became a platform for intense debate and discussion. Users expressed their support for the wrestler, condemning what they perceived as unfair treatment by the Egyptian Wrestling Federation throughout his tenure. Others, however, voiced their disappointment at Baghdoda’s decision to leave the team camp, criticizing him for abandoning the mission after representing Egypt.
Notably, prominent Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris publicly called for Baghdoda to return to Egypt, offering his assistance in resolving any issues that had contributed to the athlete’s distress. Sawiris’s statement underscored the significance of Baghdoda’s situation and the collective desire to find a resolution that would ensure his continued success within the national team.
Similarities with Previous Cases
Baghdoda’s departure bears some resemblance to past incidents involving Egyptian athletes who chose to represent other countries or discontinue their participation in national teams.
Wrestler Mohamed Essam, aged 17, fled the national mission during the U17 World Championships in Italy, prompting the sports ministry to report the case to the United World Wrestling to prevent him from joining other national teams abroad.
Furthermore, professional squash player Mohamed El-Shorbagy decided to switch his representation from Egypt to England in international championships, expressing his desire for enhanced support from his new team.
The tea: A Complex Situation Requiring Resolution
The controversy surrounding Ahmed Baghdoda’s sudden departure to Europe after his noteworthy achievement in Tunisia continues to captivate the Egyptian public. The athlete’s video message provided some clarity on the financial pressures he faced, while also expr
essing gratitude towards President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian people for their support. The ongoing investigations and efforts to retain Baghdoda within the national team demonstrate the commitment to resolving the situation and ensuring the welfare of Egyptian athletes. As the story unfolds, it remains to be seen how this episode will shape the future of Egyptian wrestling and the support system for athletes.