Cairo, November 17: Mohamed Salah has been slammed in an extraordinary tirade by former Egypt forward Mido, who criticised the Liverpool star for contracting COVID-19 and called the national team's administration "cowards" for aiding the player's apparent negligence.
It was confirmed last Friday that Salah had been diagnosed with the virus after returning two positive test results.
It subsequently emerged that Salah had attended the wedding of his brother in Cairo earlier in the week, an event that was said to have had hundreds of guests.
While some footage from the wedding showed Salah dancing in a crowd with a facemask on, in others the covering is shown to be only around his neck – like much of the world, Egypt has imposed COVID-19 protocols to curb the spread of the virus, including social distancing measures and the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces.
It has not been confirmed that Salah contracted the virus at the wedding, but he has attracted widespread condemnation for attending it during a pandemic and so close to Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Togo.
Now Mido, a controversial figure himself during his playing days, has blasted Salah and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) – including his former team-mate Mohamed Barakat, now national team director – for allowing the situation to arise in the first place.
"I know I may be under attack after my next talk, but it has to be. Mohamed Salah made a big mistake by attending his brother's wedding a few days before the Egyptian national team match," the former Tottenham, Ajax and Roma striker told Al-Nahar TV. "He showed great negligence with the steps taken to prevent coronavirus, and the result was that he was infected.
"The neglect of Mohamed Salah caused the Egyptian team to lose an important player in a very important match and time, and he also risked the health of his team-mates. He should not have been present at his brother's wedding, especially at that time.
"The other point here is the silence of all those responsible for the player's negligence, which confirms the fact that the player is still bigger than the national team and this will lead to a great failure.
"When I missed the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, I was punished by missing the final and being excluded from the national team for six months, even if I played [at club level].
"The final we lost, I was young and I thought I was bigger than the team, but I confirm now that no one is bigger than the team, and if someone thinks this, this will be a great failure.
"Officials in Egypt did not direct any word of blame or reproach to Mohamed Salah and the harm caused by his negligence to the Egyptian team, and I name each of the minister of sports Ashraf Sobhi, chairman of the EFA Amr Al-Ganayni, the coach of the national team Hossam Al-Badri, and the national team director Mohamed Barakat, all are cowards and fear Mohamed Salah fans who love the Liverpool star.
"But here I am speaking without calculations or fear of anyone. No one can say that Salah did not make a mistake by going to his brother's wedding at that difficult time and in light of the coronavirus crisis.
"All the English newspapers speak against us negatively, Salah should have been blamed for what he did, but everyone feels fear."
Salah also looks set to miss Liverpool's Premier League clash with Leicester City.