Fans have questioned whether Liverpool FC will discipline star striker Mohamed Salah after the Egyptian hero was caught on camera dancing without a mask at his brother’s wedding, prompting tweeters to brand his behaviour as “irresponsible” and “disgusting.”
The Egyptian FA (EFA) revealed that Salah had tested positive on Friday afternoon, only to swiftly replace references to their superstar with an announcement that three players had undergone a retest.
Salah had been due to play for his country in their Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier match at home to Togo on Saturday, and in the return fixture on Tuesday, but his presence is now in serious doubt after news spread that he had caught Covid-19 and a video circulated of him dancing in a crowd at his brother’s wedding before joining Egypt’s training camp.
There was little sympathy for Salah’s actions.
Others argued that Salah had not broken the law and was observing local guidelines, countered by critics who insisted that Salah’s status as a world-renowned sportsman placed extra responsibilities on him to set an example and protect others during this pandemic.
National football associations have been blasted for what many view as an unnecessary round of international fixtures this week, sending the likes of Salah and others thousands of miles around the world in arrangements that have already been blamed for causing new infections.
Salah endured a more personal immediate backlash because of his complete rejection of social distancing protocols during the raucous scenes in Cairo, when he was captured dancing in the middle of a circle with his mask lowered to his chin.
He was seen dancing with a woman who appeared to be his brother’s bride at one point. He also attended a ceremony to recognize his achievements in the Egyptian capital during the week, attended by many veterans of the sport and former national team managers.
While pictures showed the audience at the award event wearing masks and observing social distancing, Salah chose not to don one as he walked to the stage to accept the Inspirer Award for his work as a role model to millions of young people around the world.
“Surely he will be disciplined by the club for this?” asked one observer, writing just days after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp strongly questioned the level of concern for player welfare shown by international associations.
Klopp had been frustrated by injuries to key players, and now Salah could miss Liverpool’s next two matches.
Several members of Klopp’s squad have already missed Premier League matches because of Covid-19, with Thiago Alcantara, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri all returning positive tests and Naby Keita reportedly being diagnosed while he was on international duty with Guinea last month.
“He’s at his brother’s wedding,” an apologist for Salah said, voicing an opinion that would be unlikely to win over Klopp or Egypt manager Hossam El Badry.
“You can’t stop players from going to their own family’s weddings.”
Some took the sarcastic route.
“All that contact and he hasn’t dived to the floor and screamed for a penalty. Are we sure it’s Salah?”