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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah revives dispute with Egyptian FA over image rights

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has not resolved a dispute with Egypt's football association over the use of his image.

Mohamed Salah rekindled a months-long dispute with the Egyptian football association, accusing them of ignoring his complaints about their unauthorised use of his image.

The dispute over image rights, which dates to the spring, 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 with Liverpool, will continue to play for Egypt.

"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," Salah wrote on Twitter.

"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?!"

In a statement, Egypt's football association said it would discuss Salah's demands on Monday. In a news conference later in the day, Ahmed Megahed, a board member of the association, said they contacted Salah on Aug. 16 after he previously sent a message to association's president Hani Abu Reda on Aug. 11, saying any requests should be sent in an official letter to the association.

Megahed said Salah's agent has sent a letter to the association during Eid al-Adha vacation "but its language was inappropriate and difficult to accept. It included a request by Salah's agent for the association to resign if it doesn't accept the player's demands."

He added that Rami Abbas has sent another letter late on Sunday after Salah's tweet, this time without "threats or resignation requests." He said the association is considering Salah's requests which include providing him with security when he is with the national team and shielding him from ill-timed requests for photos, press interviews or promotional appearances.

"Some of these demands will be accepted but others not... we fully care about Salah and his performance as he is one of our sons," Megahed said.

A plane painted in tribute to Egypt's national football team was used to travel to the World Cup.
A plane painted in tribute to Egypt's national football team was used to travel to the World Cup.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Salah fired back at the association. He said his requests were for all players in the national squad to be comfortable in their training camps.

"The problem is not a personal one. What I call for is for all the players. They are carried out very easily," he said.

He urged the association officials to focus on "solving the problem, not the language of [his agent] Rami Abbas."

Salah said he and his agent have sent several letters to the association but received no reply for over two weeks.

Salah's tweet was widely shared in Egypt, where he is seen as a national hero. Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who is among the people who have shared it, called for the resignation of the football association's board members.

"Treating an Egyptian figure like Mohamed 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 wrote on Twitter in response.

The dispute first surfaced in April, when the Egyptian national team prominently featured an image of Salah on a plane provided by team sponsor WE. Salah has a sponsorship deal with Vodafone, a rival telecommunications firm.

At the time, Khaled Abdel-Aziz, Egypt's Youth and Sports Minister, said 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 Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ordered that the dispute be quickly resolved.

Salah's relationship with the association has also been strained since he was apparently used as a political symbol during the World Cup, when Egypt was based in Chechnya.

He was said to have been particularly annoyed by a dinner banquet hosted by Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of the Russian region, in which he granted Salah "honorary citizenship." Kadyrov has repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses, including torture and the killing of political opponents, but denies the allegations.

In June, a source told ESPN FC that Salah has been considering retiring from international play, but he seemed to suggest in July that he would continue to represent his country.

Egypt, under new coach Javier Aguirre, will host Niger in their next game, a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September.


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