KICK it Out and Pride in Football were furious yesterday after Liverpool and Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah was used by the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov in a political propaganda stunt.
Salah was snapped alongside Kadyrov at the Egypt’s World Cup training base on Sunday night. Kadyrov, who notorious for claiming there are no homosexuals in the region and has tortured and killed around 100 gay men, is alleged to have shown up and asked Salah to accompany him to the Grozny Stadium in Chechnya where there were thousands of local fans in attendance.
The photo raised a host of questions by the two organisations, including:
- Why did the Egyptian FA choose to base themselves in Chechnya, a region where last year Human Rights Watch reported that gay men were detained, tortured and subject to a purge, and where LBT women are in daily fear for their lives?
- Why did the Egyptian FA allow Kadyrov to visit their base, a leader who last year called the LGBT+ community “devils” who are “not people” and need to be removed from Chechnya to “purify our blood?”
- Why did Mohamed Salah and those advising him not consider the message his appearance alongside Kadyrov would send to LGBT+ people across the world, including Chechnya, Russia and Liverpool itself?
A statement released to the Star said: “Kick It Out and Pride in Football are extremely disappointed to see football being exploited for political propaganda by the leader of a region with a horrendous record on human rights, particularly towards the LGBT+ community.
“No footballer, particularly one as distinguished and internationally recognised as Mohamed Salah, should be used for this purpose.
“Ultimately, the widely publicised photos are a reminder that football and sport do not exist in a vacuum. Players, Football Associations and international governing bodies must always be aware that their actions can influence wider society and in turn, the rights and lives of minority groups.
“Ramzan Kadyrov has already secured a PR victory for his domestic audience, but it is not too late for Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian FA, FIFA and everyone in football to learn from this incident. We must always do everything we can to prevent the game being exploited by human rights abusers, and continue to send a clear message that the LGBT+ community are an integral part of football and wider society.”
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