The head of the Egyptian football federation has blamed the Muslim Brotherhood movement for the national team’s poor performance during the World Cup.
Hany Abo Rida made the outrageous comments to local news website al-Watan on Tuesday, amid accusations that Liverpool star forward Mohamed Salah was used for political games at the tournament in Russia.
He said: “The Brotherhood had a major role in the problems the national team faced during the World Cup, primarily regarding Salah.”
Egyptian officials have blamed the banned Islamic political movement in the past for various problems, without ever providing evidence for their accusations.
Abo Rida also dismissed rumours that Salah was used for political reasons while the squad was based in Chechnya.
He said: “The football federation did not force Salah to meet with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.”
He added that Kadyrov’s advisors had warned him that moving the Egypt’s base would negatively affect Egyptian-Russian relations.
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Egypt lost all three matches in Russia, crashing out of its first World Cup since 1990 which sparked an outrage of the federation’s management of the national team.
On Sunday, Salah issued his first public indication of his discontentment with the Egyptian FA’s use of Chechnya as a base during their World Cup campaign
The 26=-year-old tweeted: “Some might think it’s over but it isn’t over. There needs to be change.”
Two federation officials claimed that teammates pressured Salah to attend the banquet hosted by Kadyrov for the Egyptian World Cup squad.
A source close to the 26-year-old told the Associated Press that Salah did not want to attend, arguing that being seen with Kadryrov would be negatively received.
He allegedly went only after being warned that not attending could spark a diplomatic dilemma between Egypt and Russia.
The secular regime of “President” Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and brutally cracked down on its members since removing Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president in 2013.
Thousands of the group’s members, including its senior leadership have been jailed for opposing the coup.