A member of the Egyptian FA has branded reports that Mohamed Salah will quit the national team as “a big lie”.
The Independent reported on Sunday that the Liverpool forward was weighing up his international future over the controversy that has come from him being filmed with Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov while at Egypt’s World Cup base in Grozny.
Salah has since been made an “honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic” according to Kadyrov, who tweeted it in a ceremony with the player.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That’s right!” Kadyrov wrote. “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.”
However, Egyptian FA board member Essam Abdel Fattah has insisted that Salah is not about to turn his back on the team.
“This is a big lie,” he told Goal. “Nothing like this is true and I wonder how CNN are reporting these things.”
The controversy around the pictures is due to Kadyrov, who has led Chechnya since 2004, and his divisive rule over his people, as well as his comments on those in same-sex relationships, but Fattah said he didn’t understand the furore.
“I don’t understand this. We’re guests in this men’s land and he invited us for a dinner,” he added. “We can’t refuse something like that and this is very normal. [Critics] are mixing politics and sports? We’re a sports team and nothing can involve us in politics.
“I’m sick of all these rumours around our team. Today it was also said that an EFA member’s son was selling a ticket illegally…these are silly things and still lies.”
Salah’s relationship with the Egyptian FA was already strained before the World Cup after he won a battle with them over the use of his image rights in April.
He was upset his image was featured so prominently on the plane taking Egypt to Russia, which was provided by official team sponsor WE despite Salah having a sponsorship deal with rival telecommunications company Vodafone.