Egypt exempts Mo Salah from joining friendlies in UAE, ending crisis with Liverpool

Egypt exempts Mo Salah from joining friendlies in UAE, ending crisis with Liverpool
A war of words has erupted recently over Mo Salah’s participation in the national team, with some accusing him of favouring Liverpool club over Egypt's team.
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
12 March, 2024
Mo Salah has been exempted from playing with Egypt in the coming friendlies in the UAE. [Getty]

A recent crisis that has reportedly lasted for weeks between the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the UK-based Liverpool club may have finally been resolved over the weekend after Egypt exempted forward Mohamed Salah (also known as Mo Salah) from joining a friendly tournament with the country's national team later this month due to his injury.

On Sunday afternoon, Egypt's Minister of Youth and Sports, Ashraf Sobhy, said in an interview with a local radio station that Salah had informed him that "his injury resurfaced."

"[Salah] is adhering to a rehabilitation regimen and gradually returning to match fitness. That is why there is no necessity to call him up while he is not fully fit," Sobhy told ONSport Radio.

"After discussions with [the national team's head coach], Hossam Hassan, we agreed that he should stay with his club, [Liverpool]," Sobhy added.

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Last month, Salah sustained a hamstring injury as he led the Egyptian national team's match versus Ghana during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Sobhy said that Salah had earlier encountered some issues with the EFA after 2018, which have been resolved.

"We acknowledge Salah's contributions and value him. But, at the same time, we prioritise the national team's best interests…Hassan will assess all other players during the friendly tournament. [And] there is no need to assess Salah," Sobhy noted.

Meanwhile, a few hours after Sobhy's remarks on Sunday, the national team's manager, Ibrahim Hassan, told reporters during a press conference in Cairo that both Salah and his club had requested the player's exclusion from the upcoming camp preceding the tournament for the sake of his full recovery.

"Salah is an irreplaceable asset to the national team, and his presence in the squad adds value to players. We had hoped for his participation," Hossam Hassan told reporters in Cairo, explaining that Salah and Liverpool had jointly requested exclusion.

"We cannot force a player to join the team… [And] we do not want to jeopardise his full performance following his injury," Hassan argued. 

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Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticising Hassan's comment.

"This is not an ordinary player…the right call is to know his reasons and work on solving them…not to give him up… it's our loss [not his]…an unsuccessful beginning on the part of Ibrahim Hassan," the Egyptian billionaire wrote.

Ibrahim Hassan's brother, Hossam Hassan, has been named the head coach of the national team, succeeding Rui Vitoria after Egypt lost the AFCON. The 57-year-old twin brothers are known to have held football-related positions together for decades.

On 22 March, the Egyptian national team will play in a friendly tournament held in the UAE against New Zealand. The winner is expected to face the victor of the Tunisia-Croatia match.

The tournament will be part of Egypt and Tunisia's preparation for World Cup qualifiers, due in June.

A war of words recently erupted over Salah's participation in the national team's upcoming games. Some accuse him of favouring the interests of his club over his country's national team, while others ask him to quit playing internationally with Egypt.

Salah has been in rehabilitation under the supervision of doctors in Liverpool since he got injured almost two months ago, only making a brief comeback last week by playing the final 16 minutes in Liverpool's victory over Sparta Prague in the first leg of the Europa League. 

Earlier last week, EFA board member Ehab El-Komy said in press statements the association had failed to establish communication with Salah or his club to learn about his status.

Komy said that Hassans and Salah have not held any meetings yet, ruling out the presence of a conflict of interest between them.