EXCLUSIVE: Salah may demand Egyptian FA board resignation, reveals agent letter

Hatem Maher, Monday 27 Aug 2018

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah during a World Cup game against Russia (File photo: Reuters)

In a strongly-worded letter addressed to the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) earlier this month, the agent of Mohamed Salah said the Liverpool forward would demand that the EFA board step down if it fell short of meeting his demands.

Salah hit headlines on Sunday when he expressed his frustration that the EFA had ignored his requests over an issue he did not originally specify, only for his agent Ramy Abbas to step in later in the day and clarify the matter via Twitter.

"We asked for guarantees regarding Mohamed’s wellbeing whilst with the national team, and assurances that the image rights violations wouldn’t happen again. That’s all. They have yet to respond," Abbas said on his Twitter account on Sunday.

The letter, which was not made public, was sent to the EFA on 23 August, which marked the third day of Eid Al-Adha vacation in Egypt. The governing body, which came under fire for Egyp's embarrassing group-stage exit at this year's World Cup in Russia, said it would hold a news conference on Monday to respond.

In the scathing letter, Abbas directed a barrage of criticism at the EFA over its handling of a previous image row with Salah ahead of the World Cup. He also pointed the finger at the association for Egypt's failure to bag a single point in Russia after three Group A defeats.

"You have not made Mohamed comfortable whilst he is on International Duty and I cannot think of any other National Association which would treat any player in the disgraceful and abhorrent manner as you have treated Mohamed," Abbas wrote in the letter.

"Your World Cup failure is the direct result of the incompetent management which you have displayed ever since Mohamed scored that stoppage time penalty against Congo. Success on the field took a back seat ever since."

Salah converted the decisive penalty against Congo which lifted Egypt to their first World Cup finals in 28 years. However, a shoulder injury prevented him from featuring in the opening clash against Uruguay, which the Pharaohs lost 1-0.

He returned in action for the remaining two games, scoring against hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia although Egypt lost both games to bow out in embarrassing fashion.

List of demands

The fresh falling-out stems from another dispute earlier this year when Abbas complained about what he called the "exploitation of Salah's image rights" by the EFA.

He was particularly concerned about an EgyptAir plane designed for the national team ahead of the World Cup, bearing the pictures of several players including Salah. He argued that the EFA and its sponsor, advertising agency Presentation, could not use Salah’s image without a written consent from MS Commercial, the entity that owns the player’s image rights.

The EFA eventually said it would "give up its rights" and remove Salah's pictures from all the ads to meet his demands.

But Abbas sought further guarantees in the letter he sent to the EFA last week, listing seven demands.

He demanded that two security guards be present with Salah whilst he is on international duty. He also said no one should be allowed to ask Salah for photographs and that his client "will not be expected to be made available for any promotional appearances, interviews, meets and greets, sponsor events, official visits, VIP visits, picture sessions, or anything, by anyone on behalf of the EFA."

In an explicit warning, Abbas said he and Salah would call on the EFA president and entire board of directors to hand in their resignation should they decline to respond.

"You must respond to this letter by Monday, 27 August 2018. Your response should unequivocally confirm your acceptance to all the above," he wrote.

"Should you not respond within the aforementioned timeframe or should your response in any manner fall short of our expectations, we would consider that you are not willing to accommodate the demands we have set out above and both Mohamed and I would, call for the resignation of the President of the EFA and of the entire board of the EFA."

Salah, 26, is an icon in the football-mad country. He made a stunning impact at Liverpool last term, racking up 44 goals in all competitions including a record 32 in the Premier League.

Speculation linked him with a summer move to a host of clubs, including Spanish giants and European champions Real Madrid, but he opted to stay put, penning a new five-year contract with Liverpool last month.

Salah picked up from where he left off last season, netting two goals in Liverpool's opening three Premier League games. His first-half goal earned the Reds a 1-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.

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