Amid Mo Salah ‘political pawn’ claims, Chechnya’s Kadyrov posts new picture

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A new picture of Egyptian football star Mohamed Salah was widely circulated in British media on Tuesday, after it was published by Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov on a Russian social media portal.

The image shows the two sitting next to each other over a banquet at the Chechen leader's palace, in honor of Salah and his colleagues of the Egyptian football team.

Kadyrov published the picture last Friday, a day after news reports pointed out that Salah threatened he will retire from Egypt’s national team after he was used politically by the Chechnya leader who faces wide criticism in the United Kingdom and other western countries for his involvements in human rights violations, which caused a crisis for the Liverpool player.

The picture which was published on VK, a Russian version of Facebook, carried under it a caption reportedly written by Kadryov: “Mohamed Salah thanked us for the warm reception and our wonderful treatment of the team, the living atmosphere and training,” as reported by British tabloid, the Daily Mail.

The published picture is similar to the one released before and caused a media uproar and consequently a response from Salah, while this picture and the caption directly reflect Kadyrov's stance towards the issue he is believed to have created for Salah.

Last Friday, Kadyrov granted Salah an honorary citizenship at the banquet held to say goodbye to Egypt's World Cup squad.

The players had adopted the Russian region's capital, Grozny, as their base for the tournament.

The Egyptian Football Association said the banquet was held at Kadyrov's presidential palace in Grozny.

Kadyrov attended Egypt's first practice session in Grozny on June 10. After watching for about 30 minutes, he drove to the squad's hotel where Salah, nursing a shoulder injury, was relaxing in his room.

The Chechen leader asked Salah to accompany him back to the stadium, where the two posed for photos and greeted the 5,000 fans watching Egypt practice.

According to the FA, the Chechen "leadership" sent a large cake to the team hotel on June 15 to mark Salah's 26th birthday.

Salah said he believed he was being used for political reasons while the Egypt squad was based in Chechnya.

The federation's choice of Chechnya raised many eyebrows because it meant huge distances to travel to matches and because of the poor human rights record of its leader.

On the other hand, the Egyptian Football Association has earlier denied reports by CNN saying Salah was angered by the Chechnyian leader reception. A source in the football federation said it was normal for a national team to be invited by the host nation and there’s no mix of sport and politics.

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