Egypt's Mohamed Salah becomes 'honorary citizen of Chechnya'

Mo Salaha and Ramzan Kadyrov

Russian Federation and Uruguay have both already qualified from Group A, but Egypt and Mohamed Salah will be playing for pride having reached their first World Cup since 1990 and only third ever.

Upon Kadyrov's first meeting with Salah after the Egypt's first public training session in Grozny, Kadyrov was overjoyed at the presence of the 2017/18 Premier League Player of the Year in the Republic, situated in Russia's North Caucasus region.

The Egyptian national team accepted Kadyrov's invitation to the squad on dinner at the Chechnya president's presidential palace in Grozny as they wrap up their preparations to leave their base camp which saw the Pharaoh's training during their participation in the 2018 World Cup. "That's right!" the Chechen leader wrote in a post released on social media, saying he had signed an official directive to that effect.

"I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team". I didn't invite Mo Salah or the Egyptian team. After watching for about 30 minutes, he drove to the squad's nearby hotel where Salah, nursing a shoulder injury, was relaxing in his room. The Chechen leader posed for pictures with Salah while pinning a medal on his chest.

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Kadyrov's habit of hosting celebrities such as Salah appears created to associate him more with sports than his track record as an authoritarian leader. Salah scored Egypt's only goal in the tournament so far.

Chechnya leader Kadyrov is backed by the Kremlin but is under sanctions imposed by the United States, who accuse him of contravening human rights. His rule been marred by reports of extrajudicial killings and torture.

Recently, he came under pressure when widespread reports surfaced of a broad crackdown on gays in his region.

Mohamed Salah enjoys the adulation of millions of fans at home and is a role model of children aspiring to be footballers. The Egyptian team has one more match to play against Saudi Arabia, which till take place on Monday, as a probably elimination looms due to two losses.

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