Premier League leading scorer Mohamed Salah said Sunday he was insulted over the unauthorised use of his image and blamed the Egyptian Football Association in a dispute that comes less than two months before the World Cup in Russia.
The Liverpool footballer is furious his image features prominently on the outside of the national team’s plane, which was provided by official sponsor WE.
Salah has a celebrity status in his native Egypt and has a sponsorship deal with rival telecommunications firm Vodafone.
“Sorry but this is a major insult ... I was hoping the deal would be classier than this,” Salah tweeted Sunday.
Officials at Egypt’s Football Association did not respond to repeated phone calls seeking comment.
However, Egypt’s Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abd Elaziz said he was communicating with all of the concerned parties to solve the dispute.
“Especially since Egypt is going to participate in the 2018 World Cup,” Mr Elaziz tweeted hours after Salah’s. “Mohamed Salah is an idol for Egyptian youth, loving and loyal to his homeland and represents his country in Europe in the best way.”
Ramy Abbas, Salah’s agent, said he has been waiting for a response from Egyptian officials.
“We have not even been contacted for a resolution! Nothing! Complete silence!” he said in his own tweet on Saturday.
Mr Abbas argued that EFA and its sponsor, advertising agency Presentation, had no right to use Salah’s image without written consent from MS Commercial, Cayman, the firm that owns Salah’s image rights.
Salah’s tweet went viral on social media and Egyptian fans launched a twitter hashtag, #Support_Mohamed_Salah to show solidarity with their beloved player.
Egypt are competing at the World Cup in June in Russia. The country qualified for the tournament for the first time in 28 years and are in Group A against hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.