Mohamed Salah is 'happy at Liverpool'; less so with the Egyptian FA

Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah tells Becky Anderson about the difficulties the Egypt team has with their FA, including at the AFCON.

Posted: Aug 19, 2019 2:10 PM
Updated: Aug 19, 2019 2:10 PM

Mohamed Salah could scarcely be happier.

A Champions League winner with Liverpool, a Premier League and international superstar and a hero to millions across the world, Salah's popularity continues to soar. So much so that this year he was one of six TIME 100 cover stars, the magazine's annual list of the world's most influential people.

"I'm happy at Liverpool," Salah told CNN's Becky Anderson in an exclusive interview. "I'm happy in the city -- I love the fans and they love me. I'm happy at the club."

And yet, for all the success, there is still one snag nagging him -- his relationship with the national football association of his beloved Egypt.

Such has been the tempestuous nature of the relationship that there had even been reports last year that Salah was ready to give up playing for his country following a series of rows with the Egyptian Football Association.

Though hugely critical of the EFA and its perceived failings, the 27-year-old Salah says the opportunity to inspire future generations to play for their country remains at the heart of his ambition.

"I love this country from my heart," Salah said of Egypt. "It's always in my mind. Something pushed me forward to perform, to be iconic for the kids, to be like a dream for the kids to one day be like me.

"I want to be that person, so to just retire from the national team is huge for me."

READ: Salah's message to Pep Guardiola: The Champions League is football's 'biggest competition'

READ: Salah comforts young fan floored by streetlamp

After winning the Champions League with Liverpool, Salah turned his attention to playing for the national team at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

According to Salah, what transpired at AFCON left him hugely frustrated at the politicking that is going on.

He accused the EFA of being in "competition" with him, hitting out at the lack of security afforded to players at the team hotel, while claiming grievances taken to the governing body were ignored.

Ahmed Shobair, the deputy head of the EFA, denied the accusations, insisting the players and the hotel was isolated from the public.

"These are the same accusations we heard from him (Salah) during the World Cup," Shobair told CNN.

"Compared to the alleged mistakes of the World Cup, the African Cup of Nations' training camp was extremely disciplined," he added.

Shobair and the rest of the EFA board members resigned in July in response to public anger for Egypt's performance in the African Cup.

"I think with the federation, it was a bit like a competition," Salah told CNN.

"Who's the winner? And for me, I will never be a winner because I'm a player. So, when I come to tell you something, you have to know that I'm telling you just because I want to be happy ... to get something for the national team, to do something more for the national team.

"It's not just that I'm telling you because I'm showing you that I'm powerful, I'm not powerful there. And believe me, if I'm powerful there, I could have changed a lot of things."

READ: Premier League predictions: Liverpool or City?

READ: Premier League clubs spend $1.7 billion in summer transfer window

Egypt, which hosted the 2019 tournament, had been expected to challenge for the title but was shocked by South Africa in the last 16, leading to EFA President Hany Abo Rida resigning from his position and coach Javier Aguirre losing his job.

Salah, who has endured a frosty relationship with the EFA over the past few years -- largely stemming over an image rights dispute and his criticism of the team's league's preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia -- was particularly critical of the EFA's failure to protect players from the general public in the team hotel during the recent tournament

And, during the recent AFCON tournament in Egypt, Salah said the ease with which people gained access to the team's hotel was "not normal."

"When we had one day off, I couldn't go down from the room until 9:30 p.m.," Salah said of the recent experience at AFCON.

"When I tried to go down it was like 200 people with me. And they (EFA) say, 'Why are you complaining?'

"I complain because I'm a human being. I want to be with the players. I want to sit down and enjoy my life. We are a team, we love each other, as players we want to play something.

"So, when I'm trying to say something, I'm saying for me and behalf of the players, because the players sometime talk to me, 'Please, if you can do that.'

"But for them it's a competition."

READ: 'Mohamed Salah? He's like the Sphinx and the Pyramids'

READ: 'Adrian!' Jurgen Klopp hails Liverpool's 'Rocky' in European Super Cup win

This is not the first time Salah has been critical of the Egyptian FA.

Salah's row with the EFA over image rights was reignited last August after the national association used his image to promote the team's official sponsor WE at a time the player had a sponsorship deal with Vodafone.

The player also hit out at the association over its preparations for the World Cup in Russia, with his lawyer claiming that Salah had been woken between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. by autograph hunters knocking on his hotel door.

Salah was also unhappy at the national association after being photographed with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, while preparing for the World Cup in Russia.

Salah was brought onto the field by Kadyrov, and warmly pictured while making him an honorary citizen.

Kadyrov has been widely criticized for human rights abuses, including the persecution and detainment of those in the LGBTQ community.

He denies the allegations but has made controversial statements that have more than raised eyebrows.

He once told HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," that, "We don't have such people here. We don't have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them."

"Salah feels exposed by what has happened in Chechnya, a source told CNN in June last year. The Liverpool star doesn't wish to engage in topics beyond football or to be used for anyone's political image."

It led to speculation that he might quit the national team, though that never materialized

Though critical of the EFA, Salah accepts that the players, too, have to take some responsibility for the team's failure at AFCON.

He believes the pressure of being the host nation and fans' expectations proved difficult to cope with.

"It's too much pressure, 80,000 in the stadium I think or 70,000, for each game," Salah said.

"The players feel the pressure and we didn't perform at the top level, honestly. So I'm not talking about the player and hiding myself, but as a team we didn't perform good."

While Salah remains committed to the Egyptian national team, he wants to see changes when a new president of the EFA is eventually appointed.

"The one who is coming now needs to be honest with himself and try to fix the thing because as a player in the national team, they're not happy about a lot of things," he added.

"Hopefully the new one comes and does things differently."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 122812

Reported Deaths: 2287
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32050965
Ramsey13185346
Dakota9146133
Anoka7955148
Stearns525534
Washington517267
Scott315634
Olmsted305029
St. Louis258563
Wright224714
Nobles211716
Clay200843
Blue Earth19587
Carver16867
Rice15629
Sherburne153221
Kandiyohi15194
Mower148912
Winona116718
Lyon9146
Waseca9089
Crow Wing86821
Chisago8312
Benton8265
Beltrami7537
Otter Tail7206
Steele7162
Todd6922
Itasca67117
Nicollet66417
Freeborn6314
Douglas5923
Martin58416
Le Sueur5825
Morrison5776
McLeod5663
Watonwan5634
Pine5040
Goodhue49711
Polk4894
Becker4833
Isanti4803
Chippewa3733
Carlton3721
Dodge3600
Mille Lacs3467
Pipestone32416
Wabasha3200
Cass3045
Meeker3043
Hubbard3012
Brown2903
Rock2861
Yellow Medicine2655
Cottonwood2610
Redwood24810
Murray2443
Fillmore2350
Sibley2353
Renville22511
Unassigned22053
Faribault2080
Swift1911
Jackson1891
Roseau1890
Kanabec18710
Houston1801
Wadena1790
Lincoln1640
Stevens1631
Pennington1621
Koochiching1604
Aitkin1511
Pope1420
Big Stone1270
Lac qui Parle1222
Wilkin1224
Lake1000
Norman930
Mahnomen911
Grant864
Marshall861
Clearwater740
Red Lake562
Traverse490
Lake of the Woods401
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 106765

Reported Deaths: 1522
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk17906281
Woodbury678786
Johnson562330
Black Hawk517196
Linn5020123
Dubuque463852
Scott402433
Story383217
Dallas328843
Pottawattamie294044
Sioux228211
Buena Vista219512
Marshall192236
Webster166414
Plymouth153324
Wapello147062
Clinton134625
Muscatine132357
Crawford130312
Cerro Gordo122223
Des Moines12099
Warren11436
Carroll10238
Jasper101934
Henry9735
Marion92010
Tama89336
Lee8689
Dickinson6837
Wright6791
Delaware6728
Boone6718
Bremer6117
Washington60611
Mahaska60122
Harrison5628
Jackson5253
Lyon5117
Benton4971
Louisa49015
Clay4814
Hamilton4313
Winneshiek4299
Poweshiek42811
Hardin4215
Winnebago41916
Kossuth4150
Floyd41211
Jones4053
Emmet39314
Buchanan3893
Cedar3795
Iowa3756
Franklin36918
Guthrie36414
Cherokee3622
Sac3603
Clayton3503
Page3450
Shelby3411
Butler3402
Fayette3372
Madison3372
Mills3341
Allamakee3248
Chickasaw3191
Clarke3083
Cass3022
Palo Alto2831
Grundy2794
Humboldt2793
Hancock2724
Calhoun2573
Howard2458
Osceola2450
Monroe23711
Mitchell2270
Monona2261
Taylor2202
Union2083
Pocahontas2032
Appanoose1983
Jefferson1881
Lucas1796
Fremont1781
Ida1762
Greene1710
Van Buren1562
Davis1544
Montgomery1525
Keokuk1361
Audubon1281
Worth1260
Adair1231
Decatur1220
Wayne1113
Ringgold802
Adams670
Unassigned250
Rochester
Overcast
31° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 25°
Mason City
Overcast
33° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 27°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 29°
Austin
Broken Clouds
34° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 34°
Charles City
Scattered Clouds
32° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 27°
Tracking Snow
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Chez Bojji now open

Image

Ways to save you money this winter

Image

Sean's Weather 10/19

Image

Working to save the bees

Image

Suicide hotline number changing

Image

Sunday weather

Image

Minnesota's COVID numbers on the rise

Image

Bagging groceries for veterans

Image

Saturday night weather

Image

Saturday Weather

Community Events