By Muambo Edward 

Football Writer, Cameroon

 


Fears of a potential withdrawal from the FIFA Club World Cup scheduled to take place in December in Qatar by Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, have been put to bed.

Liverpool have received assurances from reliable Qatari sources that the player’s presence in Qatar for the tournament will not be used for propaganda purposes.

Without such reassurances, there were worries that the forward could be pressured to withdraw from the tournament for political reasons.

Salah is Egypt’s most high-profile sports man, Egyptian authorities were disturbed by his stay in Qatar during the competition, given their severed diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Mohammed Salah

In 2017, Egypt cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar as part of a Middle East-wide blockade.

Salah is no stranger to political propaganda against his wish. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the striker was left bitter when he was forced to attend a banquet hosted by Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the controversial Chechen province, and was granted ‘Honorary Citizenship’ during Egypt’s stay in Russia for the tournament.

High level Qatari sources have assured the 2019 UEFA Champions League winners that their 27 year old Egyptian striker will be treated exactly like the rest of his teammates.

Former Egyptian international Mohammed Aboutrika currently works as a pundit for Qatari based sports TV station, beIN Sports.

He is Salah’s close friend, and the former Basel forward has been paying him regular visits in Qatar, under discrete circumstances.

It should be recalled that Arsenal’s Armenian midfielder Henrik Mhkitaryan missed the final of the 2019 Europa League that was staged Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, as a result of political tensions between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Also, Arsenal midfielder Mezut Ozil was heavily criticized for taking a picture with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in 2018, and the fact that the German international of Turkish descent was invited to be the best man at Mr Erdogan’s wedding.

Former German youth international Ashkan Dejagar had refused to play for Germany in a game against Israel, aligning with his Iranian roots, where is it said that there is no nation like Israel.

These examples amongst others demonstrate an urgent need for a clear line to be drawn between politics and the beautiful and unifying game of football and sports as a whole.

 


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