Egypt FA denies Mo Salah considering quitting team over Chechen controversy

Egypt FA denies Mo Salah considering quitting team over Chechen controversy
Sources close to the Liverpool forward had claimed Mo Salah is unhappy over being used as a 'political' pawn in a meeting with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
3 min read
25 June, 2018
Mo Salah's performance at the World Cup has been hampered by injury [Getty]
The Egpytian football federation has denied reports superstar player Mo Salah is considering quitting the national team, reportedly unhappy for being used as a political pawn while the squad were based in Chechnya.

The player rose to fame as Liverpool forward, ranked alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.

The Egypt team, which qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup for the first time in 28 years, had its hopes riding on the 26-year-old's goal-scoring skills.

However, as his fitness to play became a talking point of the tournament, so did footage on Russian state-funded news agency RT showing Salah smiling as controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov gave a speech and pinned a badge bearing the Chechen flag to his shirt.

Behind the cameras, Salah was reportedly upset over being used for political means.

According to a source speaking to CNN, Salah feels exposed by what has happened in Chechnya and "doesn't wish to engage in topics beyond football or to be used for anyone's political image", CNN reported.

Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, was devastated by wars between separatists and Russian forces.

Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya since 2004, was a former rebel who switched his loyalties to Moscow. He faces accusations of gross human rights violations, including abductions and killings, which he has denied. He is also leading a massive crackdown on LGBT people in his country.

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"Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That's right!" the Chechen leader wrote in a social media post.

"I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team."

After the photo opportunity, critics said Salah allowed the Chechen leader to use him to improve his international image - accusations the Liverpool player has not responded to publicly.

The Egypt football federation on Monday denied Salah has any desire to retire from international football.

Its spokesman Osama Ismail said Salah had not complained to the federation, the Guardian reported.

"Only what Salah writes on his Twitter account should be counted on," he said. The federation said in a later statement reported by the BBC: "Reports that Salah wants to leave are completely wrong. Mo is still with us now and he is happy in the camp. He is eating and laughing with his teammates. He is training well and that means no problem."

Salah was injured in a Champions League game against Real Madrid and subsequently missed Egypt's opening World Cup match against Uruguay, though he played and scored in the 3-1 defeat by hosts Russia.
    The Pharaohs, who cannot reach the knockout rounds, face Saudi Arabia in their final match on Monday.

    Now read: The great guide to Middle East teams at the 2018 World Cup