Mohamed Salah is considering retiring from Egypt duty following the controversy surrounding him posing for photographs with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Images of Salah and the controversial leader quickly circulated online before the World Cup began, with Kadyrov visibly grasping the hand of the Egypt star as a show of solidarity.
Salah was also granted honorary citizenship of Chechnya by Kadyrov, a ruler widely accused of human rights violations, on Saturday.
The Liverpool forward believes he has been exploited and is therefore considering quitting the Egypt national team.
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, who accuse 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.
Egyptian FA board member Essam Abdel Fattah has responded to the claims that Salah is considering his international football future.
‘This is a big lie,’ he told Goal. ‘Nothing like this is true and I wonder how CNN are reporting these things.’
‘I don’t understand this. We’re guests in this men’s land and he invited us for a dinner. We can’t refuse something like that and this is very normal.
‘[Critics] are mixing politics and sports? We’re a sports team and nothing can involve us in politics.’