Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was given a “VIP reception” in Cairo on Sunday as he returned home to join Egypt’s training camp ahead of an African Nations Cup qualifier, less than a week after he fell out with the country’s football association.
In an unusual public spat, Salah and his lawyer launched a scathing attack on the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) last week, listing a number of concerns that they said should be addressed by the governing body.
Salah’s lawyer Ramy Abbas sought guarantees that what he called a violation of the player’s image rights ahead of the summer World Cup in Russia would not be repeated.
He demanded that two security guards be present with Salah whilst he is on international duty and said no one should be allowed to ask the 26-year-old for photographs.
The former AS Roma man, a largely media-shy footballer, stepped in with three videos he posted on his Facebook page last Monday, complaining of how he and his Egypt teammates were received every time they went back home.
He said the national team usually flies economy rather than business class and that they have to mix with the jostling crowd at the Cairo airport.
Local reports said that Salah and defender Ahmed Hegazi, who plays for West Bromwich Albion in the English Championship, were received at the airport’s VIP lounge on Sunday and escorted out by four security guards.
“The Egyptian FA has increased the level of its services to the players because of the courage of a player who will go down as one of the most important people in the history of Egyptian football,” said former Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax Amsterdam striker Mido, who is now a television pundit.
“A big greeting to the Egyptian FA officials … the biggest challenge for them now is to solve the problem of image rights,” he added.
Salah is expected to spearhead Egypt’s attack when they host Niger in Alexandria in their second Group J game of the 2019 African Nations Cup qualifiers on Saturday.