Egypt's star striker Mohamed Salah poses with the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, during training at the Akhmat Arena stadium in Grozny. Picture: Karim Jaafar/AFP
Egypt's star striker Mohamed Salah poses with the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, during training at the Akhmat Arena stadium in Grozny. Picture: Karim Jaafar/AFP

Salah rubs shoulders with controversial Chechen leader

MOHAMED Salah, a star attraction of soccer's 2018 World Cup in Russia, has made headlines for a smiling photo with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov where the Egyptian team have set up camp.

"Mo Salah was woken from his sleep so a man accused of 'torture and extrajudicial killings' could have a photo with him during training" in Grozny, capital of the Russian republic, British tabloid The Sun opined.

President Kadyrov, supported by Russia's President Vladimir Putin, rules Chechnya with an iron fist, drawing constant condemnation from human rights groups.

According to press reports, he went to the Egyptian team hotel to pick up Salah and deliver him for training at the football stadium before 8000 cheering fans.

Back in  the World Cup finals after an absence of 28 years, Egypt chose Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, as The Pharaohs' camp although it is not hosting any matches in the tournament.

 Sporting a turquoise and white tracksuit, Kadyrov gushed about Salah, saying the Egypt and Liverpool goal machine was "the best footballer in the world, and an overall perfect person".

The Chechen leader is an avid fan of the no-holds-barred sport of mixed martial arts.

Under his rule of Muslim-dominated Chechnya, mosques have sprouted up everywhere from the ruins of towns and villages destroyed in two wars against the central government in Moscow.

Tajeddine Soultane, manager of the team's spanking new hotel, The Local, said they opted for Chechnya "because this is a conservative country... where you don't find discotheques" and the food is halal in keeping with Muslim religious laws.

For the team itself, the Salah-Kadyrov handshake is far less important than whether their star will recover from a shoulder injury to feature in Egypt's opening match against Uruguay on Friday in Ekaterinburg.



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