Liverpool have received assurances that the Egyptian King Mohamed Salah’s presence in Qatar during December’s Club World Cup will not be used for propaganda purposes, amid fears that the Egyptian striker could be pressured into withdrawing from the tournament for political reasons.
Egypt cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in 2017 as part of a Middle East-wide blockade, and a visit from their most high-profile sports star could have diplomatic ramifications.
Salah’s presence at sporting events has been politicised in the past: he was angered when forced to attend a banquet hosted by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov where he was granted ‘honorary citizenship’ during Egypt’s training camp ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Liverpool have been told by high-level Qatari sources that Salah, 27, will be treated in exactly the same way as his team-mates, with no attempt to involve him in photo opportunities with the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Salah has visited Qatar on a number of occasions because of his friendship with former Egypt international Mohamed Aboutrika, who is a pundit for the beIN Sports channel.
Politics and football is a growing issue, from Mesut Ozil being criticised for being photographed with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018 and inviting him to be the best man at his wedding, to Henrik Mkhitaryan missing the 2019 Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea because of tensions with hosts Azerbaijan and his native Armenia.