Mohamed Salah has revived a months-long dispute with soccer authorities in his native Egypt, accusing them of ignoring his complaints about their unauthorized use of his image.
The dispute over image rights and lingering tensions over his treatment during the World Cup have cast doubt on whether Salah, the top scorer in the Premier League last season, will continue playing with the national team.
‘It’s normal that a football federation seeks to solve the problems of its players so they can feel comfortable. But in fact, what I see is exactly the opposite,’ the Liverpool winger tweeted on Sunday.
It is not normal that my messages and my lawyer’s messages are ignored. I do not know why all this (is happening)? Do you not have time to respond to us?!’ he added.
Egypt’s football association said in a statement it would discuss Salah’s demands on Monday.
Ramy Abbas, Salah’s agent, said he and his client have asked for guarantees regarding the 26-year-old’s ‘wellbeing’ while on the national team and assurances that his image rights won’t be violated again. ‘Enough is enough,’ Abbas tweeted.
Salah’s tweet was widely shared in Egypt, where he is seen as a national hero.
Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris called for the resignation of the football association’s board members.
‘Treating an Egyptian figure like Mohammed Salah who raised his country’s name in an unprecedented way should not have been like that… Resign and relieve us after the abject failure,’ Sawiris tweeted Monday.
The dispute first surfaced in April when the Egyptian national team prominently featured Salah’s image on its plane, which was provided by official team sponsor WE. Salah has a sponsorship deal with a rival telecommunications firm, Vodafone.
At the time, Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz announced that all of Salah’s demands would be met following an emergency meeting of the football association’s board. Farag Amer, head of parliament’s Youth and Sports committee, said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had ordered that the dispute be quickly resolved.
Salah is due to be back in international action under new coach Javier Aguirre in September, with Egypt facing Niger in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
But his participation could be in doubt.
Salah’s relationship with the association has been strained since he was apparently used as a political symbol while the World Cup squad was based in Chechnya. In June, two people close to Salah said that the player has been considering retiring from international play.
Salah was said to have been particularly annoyed by a dinner banquet hosted by Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of the Russian region of Chechnya, in which he granted the Egyptian ‘honorary citizenship.’
Salah was criticized in British media after posing for photos with Kadyrov, who has repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses, including torture and the killing of political opponents. Kadyrov denies the allegations.