Mohamed Salah's bitter feud with the Egyptian Football Association took a new turn on Wednesday with a British newspaper reporting the Liverpool forward had demanded the resignations of officials if they do not offer him more protection from fans while on international duty.
A report in The Sun newspaper said a letter sent to Hany Abo Rida, the EFA president, by Salah's lawyer Ramy Abbas on August 23 accused the organisation of treating Salah in an "abhorrent manner" over issues relating to the player's security arrangements and use of image rights and that he "cannot think of another national association which would treat any player in the disgraceful and abhorrent manner as you have treated Mohamed".
Salah, 26, is a global superstar and a hero to millions of not only Egyptian supporters but Muslims across the world on the back of a record-breaking season for both club and country in which he helped Liverpool reach the Uefa Champions League final. He was also named players' and football writers' player of the year in England and helped his country qualify for a first World Cup in 28 years.
The attention has become somewhat intrusive, though, with Salah complaining of fans knocking on his hotel bedroom in the middle of the night demanding autographs while training sessions regularly descend into chaos by fans invading the pitch, according to the report.
The former Chelsea and Roma winger is alarmed by the lack of security he receives from the EFA when on international duty, the letter says, which this week was leaked by the EFA to a top Egyptian football website.
In the letter, Salah calls for the resignations of EFA officials unless they agree to a list of demands that includes:
- The EFA stopping fans camping outside his hotel room and knocking on his door in the small hours demanding pictures and autographs
- Extra security outside his hotel room and lifts on the hotel floor he is staying on
- All phone calls to his hotel room are blocked
- To be accompanied by two security guards "at all times" while on international duty
- To be exempt from promotional work on behalf of the EFA
- To be picked up from the airport by the EFA and taken directly to his hotel room in the "most discrete manner possible".
Abbas said he is yet to receive a response and has threatened to send another letter on September 2 demanding that Rida and the entire EFA board resigns within five days unless Salah's demands are met.
Rida is said to furious at the letter's tone and content, although has yet to issue an official response. It comes in the same week that Salah accused the organisation of routinely ignoring his complaints about its unauthorised use of his image.
The EFA responded in a statement on Monday, saying it would discuss Salah's demands with regards to the image rights issue but has yet to respond to the latest set of demands. Salah's letter to the EFA also raised the issue of image rights, with the player particularly unhappy that his image was used to promote sponsor WE on the squad’s World Cup plane. Salah has a personal deal with rival telecommunications company Vodafone.
Perhaps aware that his client may be open to accusations of seeking special treatment from the EFA, Abbas tweeted: “On the contrary, I’d be pleased if these requests were made available to every player in the team.”
Salah has endured a rollercoaster few months after getting injured in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in May. He regained enough fitness to play twice for Egypt at the World Cup, scoring in both games, but the Pharaohs were eliminated at the group stage on zero points.
Reports that Salah planned to retire following Egypt's exit from Russia were quickly downplayed by the player, although the latest row will do little to quell speculation this time around if the EFA do not bow to his demands.
Salah, who has 35 goals in 59 international appearances, scored 44 goals in 52 appearances for Liverpool last season and is already off the mark this campaign with goals in the wins over West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion as Jurgen Klopp's side boast a 100 per cent record in the Premier League.
Egypt face Niger in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on September 8.
It is not yet clear if Salah will join up with Javier Aguirre's squad.