Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1392, (3 - 9 May 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1392, (3 - 9 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

An image problem

The row between the Egyptian Football Federation and Mohamed Salah is resolved, reports Marawan Zayed


Is Mohamed Salah’s future with the national team in doubt? This is the question sparking big fears of Egyptian fans ahead of our highly anticipated return to the World Cup. The reason behind the very real concern is the huge legal row which has erupted between Salah alongside his agent Rami Abbas and the Egyptian football federation because of Salah’s image rights.

The issue has been on for some time now as Salah and his agent made it clear that they have become extremely frustrated in their attempts to solve the problem amicably.

While neither side has said anything about Salah missing out on the World Cup, the dispute has created anxiety among Egyptian football fans concerning the future of their soccer icon and Egypt’s prospects in the upcoming World Cup in Russia.

The story has many sides but it all started when the new telecom company “WE” decided to put a huge picture of Salah on one side of the national team’s plane while putting the pictures of several other players on the other side. In all cases this is not permitted but the issue is more serious because Salah has his own individual sponsorship deal with rival telecommunications company Vodafone but the Egyptian FA has refused to back down which infuriated Abbas who made his feelings known several times on social media. Abbas added that while he was struggling to find a solution to the plane issue, he found more companies using Salah in their ads and billboards without permission or authorisation.

According to Abbas, the laws and rules are clear regarding image rights of any player, not just Salah, and that these rules clearly state that if an entity signs a sponsorship deal with the Egyptian federation, they can then put group pictures of the players of the national team and not pictures for a specific player unlike what happened with Salah on the plane. This, Abbas said, holds true for many other ads like the new mobile phone Oppo.

Abbas also made it clear to the Egyptian federation that he has absolutely no problem with seeing Salah included in group pictures for the national team but on the other hand, he added, it was completely unacceptable to put Salah’s image on his own on any ad especially that this has created an issue between Vodafone and Salah himself.

At first it was thought that Abbas was trying to create problems between Salah and the Egyptian federation but Salah went on social media to show his full support for Abbas, even tweeting that he felt “insulted” by the way he had been treated. “Unfortunately the way it has been dealt with is a very big insult. I was hoping the deal would be classier than this,” Salah wrote.

Salah’s latest tweet sparked an enormous backlash from his fans that went on the attack on social media to slam the Egyptian federation and the WE company. A hashtag “I support Mohamed Salah” trended in no time to only confirm that Salah was the one and only person in the country capable of uniting the whole nation.

An hour after Salah’s tweet, the Ministry of Sports announced that the minister would step in personally to solve the problem and praised Salah, saying he’s the ideal representative of the country abroad, which is why he will do everything in his power to resolve the dispute.

True to the minister’s word, it seems that the problem is being resolved at the moment. Salah tweeted late on Sunday night, thanking everyone for their unconditional support and declared that the issue was about to be resolved and once again stressed that he can’t thank everyone enough for their support. It is said that the branding of the plane will be entirely changed as well as any billboard or ad having Salah on his own on it. However, the coming few days will show if the issue will really be solved once and for all.

The Pharaohs’ hopes of advancing beyond Group A in the 2018 World Cup, which also includes hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, fall on the shoulders of Salah, Liverpool’s star winger who recently was chosen the Premier League’s best player, is its top scorer and who played an instrumental role in helping the national team qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

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