Liverpool star Salah hits out at Egyptian FA in unusual public spat

In this June 9, 2018, file photo, Egyptian national team football player and Liverpool's star striker Mohamed Salah smiles as he greets fans during the final training of the national team at Cairo Stadium in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 28 August 2018
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Liverpool star Salah hits out at Egyptian FA in unusual public spat

  • “It is not normal that my messages and my lawyer’s messages are ignored..." Salah tweeted
  • Salah’s tweet was widely shared in Egypt, where he is seen as a national hero

CAIRO: In a bold and unusual move, Liverpool's mild-mannered star Mohamed Salah took to the social media to launch a scathing criticism of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) on Monday, getting the backing of many fans who believe the governing body was to blame for the World Cup fiasco.

When Salah scored in Egypt's final Group A clash against Saudi Arabia at the World Cup, which they eventually lost 2-1, his muted goal celebration fueled reports suggesting an uneasy relationship with the EFA.

He gave a hint of what may unfold when he said in a famous tweet on July 1st: "Some might think it’s over but it isn’t over. There needs to be change," without disclosing further details.

An image row between Salah and the EFA clouded the preparations for Egypt's first World Cup appearance in 28 years and it resurfaced on Sunday when the 26-year-old said he was frustrated that his messages to the governing body went unanswered as he sought guarantees that such disputes would not happen again.

A strongly-worded letter sent by Salah's lawyer Ramy Abbas to the EFA earlier this month was leaked to Egyptian media, in which he listed seven demands that he said must be accepted, including getting assurances that the player's image rights would not be violated.

Otherwise, Abbas said he and his Salah would ask for the resignation of the association's president and its entire board of directors.

"You must respond to this letter by Monday, 27 August 2018. Your response should unequivocally confirm your acceptance to all the above," Abbas wrote in the email, which was full of rants against the EFA.

"Should you not respond within the aforementioned timeframe or should your response in any manner fall short of our expectations, we would consider that you are not willing to accommodate the demands we have set out above and both Mohamed and I would, call for the resignation of the President of the EFA and of the entire board of the EFA."

The demands also included that two security guards be present with Salah while he is on international duty after the player complained of people "knocking at his door at 4 am" to ask for photographs.

Monday exchanges

On Monday, things quickly developed. While the EFA shied away from directing any criticism at Egypt's prized asset, Salah seemed determined to escalate his feud with the association.

The EFA pointed the finger at Abbas for what it called "tempering with the relation between the FA and its sons" and said it would not tolerate any foul language. It also said it cannot accept all the demands to avoid giving preferential treatment to any of the players.

Later in the day, Salah released three videos on Facebook to reveal his concerns, hitting out at those who questioned his patriotism.

"I don't have any personal problems with anyone and I don't think anybody has a personal problem with me. I apologise that I'm speaking while I'm not the national team Captain, but I do this as some players don't want to speak out," he said in an unusual angry tone.

"I asked for more security to all players, not only for me. We had many disturbances at the team's camp during our participation at the World Cup in Russia. I couldn't go to the restaurant twice as they told me you won't be able to go there for your own safety due to the crowd inside the hotel.

"I am not asking for anything personal, if so point it out. You tried to make me look as someone who hates Egypt, but I am sure people won't believe it as they always see me do my best on the pitch for my country."

The videos garnered more than three million views and tens of thousands of comments, with the majority standing by Salah and accusing the EFA of mistreating the 26-year-old.

"Is this how you treat one of the best players in the world? This is really shameful. A player who is competing for the world's best player award is asking for very simple things and you do not want to listen to him," said one user.

Salah is a hero in Egypt, having reached unprecedented heights for any Egyptian footballer. He won several individual awards last season following a dream debut campaign with Liverpool, scoring 44 goals in all competitions including 32 in the elite Premier League - a record in a 38-game top-flight campaign.

He enhanced his cult status in the country when his famous stoppage-time penalty last year ended Egypt's 28-year wait for a World Cup appearance following a dramatic 2-1 home win over Congo.

 


Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

Updated 41 min 47 sec ago
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Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

  • The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup
  • The Wakeboard World Cup will also take place at NEOM during the weekend

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s mega city NEOM is hosting an international beach soccer tournament from July 17 to 20 on the lush white beaches of the Red Sea coast.

Running alongside the tournament will also be the 50th Wakeboard World Cup, rugby and tennis in the Gayal region in NEOM.

The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup.

Countries including China and England will compete against Arab teams from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt in a purpose-built venue, according to a tweet on the official NEOM Twitter page.

This will be the second time a sports event has been held, the first being an extreme adventure sports tournament in April.

The official logo

“The reason we chose extreme adventure sports at the first event in NEOM was because it’s a beautiful environment,” said Jason Harborow, head of NEOM’s future of sport sector.

“Sport is right at the center of what we want to achieve at NEOM, and that means sport for all: male, female, children and athletes with disabilities. NEOM will be for everybody.”

NEOM is being marketed as a tourist destination designed to attract dreamers and elite minds from around the world.

The aim of the mega project is to attract new business and work as an incubator of future technologies, while also acting as a major economic power and a leading center for global investment.

”The team looks forward to the day when NEOM will host a wide range of bold sports to become a world center for sport enthusiasts, thrill seekers and an international sports center that embraces the world’s most important championships in all areas,” said Jason Harborow, head of future sports at NEOM.

The tournament is part of the ongoing effort to promote the sport sector in NEOM and business that comes with it, including encouraging major sporting events to the region.