Sunday 22 July 2018

Salah given honorary citizenship by Chechnya leader

The Egypt and Liverpool forward was feted at a banquet in Chechnya’s regional capital Grozny.

Mohamed Salah, right, has been given honorary citizenship in Chechnya by Ramzan Kadyrov, left (AP Photo)
Mohamed Salah, right, has been given honorary citizenship in Chechnya by Ramzan Kadyrov, left (AP Photo)

By Press Association Sport staff

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah has been granted honorary citizenship of Chechnya by Ramzan Kadyrov, a ruler widely accused of human rights violations.

Egypt’s squad have been training in the Russian republic’s capital, Grozny, during the World Cup.

Chechnya leader Kadyrov is backed by the Kremlin but is under sanctions imposed by the United States, which accuses him of contravening human rights.

He handed Salah a decree declaring him a citizen at a dinner in honour of the Egypt team ahead of their departure for Volgograd, where they will play Saudi Arabia in their final group match on Monday.

“Mohamed Salah thanked us for the surprisingly warm and good reception, excellent attitude to the team, excellent living conditions and training,” Kadyrov posted on Russian social network site VK.

Friday night’s banquet was held at Kadyrov’s presidential palace in Grozny. The Chechen leader posed for pictures with Salah while pinning a medal on his chest.

In his social media post, Kadyrov said he wants Egypt to return to Chechnya after the World Cup for a friendly against local club Akhmat Grozny – named after his father, who was assassinated in 2004.

Kadyrov’s rule been marred by reports of extrajudicial killings and torture in the republic which saw two separatist wars.

Recently, he came under pressure when reports surfaced of a broad crackdown on homosexual people. He insists there are no gay people in the region.

Press Association Sport has contacted the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) which by Saturday evening had yet to comment on the citizenship awarded to Salah.

The EFA posted pictures of the dinner, including shots of Salah sitting next to Kadyrov, on its Twitter page on Friday night.

Salah has been urged to explain the situation by Liverpool fan group Kop Outs, which represents the LGBT community, and LGBT fan group alliance Pride In Football.

They issued a joint statement that read: “We utterly condemn the acceptance by Mo Salah of any honour from Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechnya.”

The statement added: “Mo and all players have a responsibility to uphold human rights and should set standards of behaviour. We ask him to return the honorary citizenship as an acknowledgement of the persecution of LGBT+ people in Chechnya.

“We demand urgent dialogue with Mo and FIFA to explain how untenable this is. We demand an apology from the Egyptian FA for the flagrant disregard of the torture that is currently happening in Chechnya.”

Press Association

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