The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and all its sponsors will remove all ads showing the image of Egyptian football star Mohamed Salah to resolve a dispute with the Liverpool player over his image rights, according to the EFA’s advertising agency Presentation.
Last month, the 25-year-old Salah fell out with the country's football association over what his agent described as the exploitation of the player's image by football authorities, who placed Salah’s image on a plane to fly the national team to Russia for the upcoming World Cup.
"The EFA agreed with all the sponsors to resolve the problem and to meet Salah's demands. The EFA decided to drop their rights in favour of Egypt's big star after an agreement between the player and the sports minister and following the intervention of the leadership of the country," Presentation said in an official statement on Sunday.
"Salah's image will be removed from the national team's private plane and we will do the same regarding his image in TV ads and street banners. All his pictures will be removed within a week," the statement added.
Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas, the director of MS Commercial (Cayman), the entity that owns the player’s image rights, has issued a series of statements accusing the EFA of committing violations by using Salah’s image without permission.
Officials from the EFA told local media that they broke no rules, and accused Salah’s agent of "indecent communication."
On 29 April, Salah expressed disappointment on Twitter: "With great sorrow, the way of handling is very insulting. I had wished the handling of things would have been more elegant than this."
Salah, who has taken the Premier League by storm since joining Liverpool from Italian side AS Roma last summer, received huge support from Egyptians in his dispute with the EFA, with supporters launching a hashtag called "Support_Salah," which was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for the problem to be solved rapidly, according to the head of parliament’s youth and sports committee Farag Amer.
Sports Minister Khaled Abd El-Aziz announced a day later that "we reached an agreement with EFA boss Hani Abou Reida to meet all of Salah's demands. I affirm that we all support Salah in fulfilling all the deals he has signed in England, without any problems."
Salah is Egyptian football’s undisputed hero and one of the country’s all-time leading top scorers, with an impressive haul of 33 goals in 57 appearances. He is the player of the year for both England and Africa.
The image rights problem came a little less than two months before Egypt is set to open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay, when they end a 28-year wait for an appearance at the world’s most prestigious football showpiece.
The Pharaohs’ hopes for advancing beyond Group A, which also includes hosts Russia and Arab Gulf side Saudi Arabia, fall on Salah’s shoulders, an effervescent young winger who played an instrumental role in helping the national team qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
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