The Egyptian FA say Mohamed Salah wanted to represent his country at this summer’s Olympics, and blame Liverpool for stopping him.
Egypt’s Olympic hopes were dealt a huge blow when Salah, their captain and second top scorer of all time, was omitted from their squad this week. It had been hoped he would be named as one of three overage players to represent his country at Tokyo, but he won’t be present when the games kick off later this month.
Ahmed Megahed, chairman of the Egyptian FA, says this is through no fault of Salah’s or their own – pointing the finger at Liverpool for refusing to release him.
He said, via BBC: “We started talking with them a long time ago because Salah wanted to play the Olympic Games, but Liverpool were unclear.
“I knew in June they would not let him go. Anyway, we respect their decision.”
While clubs are obliged by FIFA to release players for internationals, the Olympic Games do not fall on the FIFA calendar, so Salah’s participation is at Liverpool’s discretion in this case.
The 29-year-old has played 62 games for club and country since football resumed in the UK a little over a year ago and if he were to travel to the Olympics, there is a chance he would not return to club training until 8 August.
That would leave him with less than a week’s break before their Premier League season kicks off against Norwich on 14 August.
Egypt coach Shawky Gharib previously said: “I tried many, many times with Liverpool, as did the Egypt FA, to persuade them to let Salah be a part of the Olympic team but they refused completely.
“Mohamed wanted to play the Olympic Games. He talked with me, I did my best to bring him. Salah was a key player in my Olympic plans. But the club refused – we need to move on.”
Egypt will face Spain in their opening game on 22 July and are joined by Argentina and Australia in the group stage.