Mohamed Salah sparked a social media controversy after removing the word "Egypt" from his Twitter bio on Tuesday, a few hours after FIFA revealed the selections of captains and coaches of national teams for the world's best player award, which surprisingly did not include Egypt.
An Egyptian journalist picked Salah's Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the 27-year-old in the vote to choose the world's best player for 2019.
But what was even more surprising for many is that Egypt skipper Ahmed Elmohamady and former coach Javier Aguirre did not even vote. Salah eventually came fourth, with Barcelona's Argentinean star Lionel Messi winning the best player award.
Salah then changed his bio to "Footballer for Liverpool FC" instead of "for Liverpool FC and Egypt", leading to heated debates on social media over whether his apparent anger was justified.
Some accused him of blowing things out of proportion while others said he was simply mistreated by Egyptian Football Association (EFA) officials.
"Salah is our most famed star ever; he should be given better treatment," said one Twitter user.
The in-form winger, who came third in the FIFA's Best awards last year and won the Puskas prize for the best goal, appeared to play down the incident in a later Tweet.
"Whatever they do to change my love for you [Egypt] and your people, they will not succeed," he wrote.
The EFA insisted that Egypt sent its choices four days before the 19 August deadline, but said Aguirre did not vote as he had been sacked at the time following the national team's embarrassing last-16 exit at the African Cup of Nations on home soil.
Egypt's U-23 manager Shawky Gharib cast his vote instead of the Mexican, the EFA said in a statement. It also revealed that it sought explanation from world governing body FIFA over what went wrong.
"The two votes went for Salah in the top spot," the statement read.
Salah has had a frosty relationship with the EFA since the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where Egypt lost all three games to bow out in embarrassing fashion.
He fell out with football officials over his image rights and a number of other issues, including what he believed was the haphazard nature of the national team's training camp, which was swarmed by Egyptian fans in Russia.
Salah was criticized by many supporters for some uninspiring displays at the June-July Nations Cup, although he scored two goals in the group stage.
The former Roma man, top scorer of the Premier League for the past two seasons, made a fine start to the new campaign with Liverpool, netting four goals in the opening six matches as the Reds top the table with maximum 18 points.
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