Mohamed Salah’s rocky relationship with the Egyptian FA all started… with an aeroplane.
Liverpool star Salah and national team bosses have been involved in a number of rows over the past two years, starting before the Pharaohs’ ill-fated 2018 World Cup campaign.
Egypt were dumped out of the finals in Russia before their final group game, having lost their opening two matches after having controversially chosen to base themselves in Chechnya.
Upset was duly caused with Salah’s camp perceiving that he was being used as a political pawn during the competition, after being pictured on a number of occasions with Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya since 2004 who has been accused of numerous human rights violations, even made Salah an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic at a farewell banquet.
At one point during the competition, ahead of their finale against Saudi Arabia – also a defeat – Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas, took to social media to declare that he was "fuming" with Egypt officials.
Now former Egyptian FA official Hazem Emam, who won 87 caps for his country, has confirmed how things went wrong before they had even departed Cairo.
"Mohamed Salah had a disagreement with the former president of the federation, Hani Abu Reeda” he told On Time Sports in Egypt.
"We should have asked Salah before using his image on the national team's aeroplane before the World Cup, that was the beginning of the whole problem.
"This disagreement had a bad influence on Salah during the World Cup. As a result. he did not celebrate his goals."
Salah and his representatives had been enraged that his image featured prominently on the national team’s plane, provided by official sponsor ‘WE’, when the player has his own individual deal with rival telecommunications firm Vodafone.
His agent said they were not contacted about the use of the player's image, and the forward addressed the issue himself, declaring: "Sorry but this is a major insult. I was hoping the deal would be classier than this."
Reeda quit after the World Cup campaign – but is expected to run for the presidency again later this year.
Salah briefly considered calling a halt to his international career after the tournament but has since remained despite further ups and downs.
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