Mohamed Salah's cryptic tweet: What's he talking about?
There were grimaces and tears, but rarely did his trademark smile flashed across Mohamed Salah’s face during a World Cup that was supposed to crown an extraordinary season for Egypt’s star player.
His curtailed tournament experience was instead overshadowed by injury and internal politics - and the Egyptian star has now raised more questions with a cryptic tweet.
“Some might think it’s over but it isn’t over. There needs to be change,” Salah tweeted on Monday.
Neither the meaning nor the target of the loaded tweet were immediately obvious.
Some have suggested the timing was crucial. Posted after Russia knocked Spain out of the tournament, Salah’s ire may have been directed at Sergio Ramos, the Spanish captain who injured Salah when they met in the Champions League final in May.
But his call for change has fed speculation it was more likely Salah’s message was about running tensions with the Egyptian Football Association.
The Egypt and Liverpool player was drawn into political controversy when he was pictured with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader accused of human rights abuses.
Salah has earned himself an unwaveringly positive reputation in the media but was suddenly the target of criticism, which increased after an impromptu ceremony before the final game against Saudi Arabia, when Kadyrov gave Salah honorary citizenship.
That time the cryptic tweet was delivered by Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas Issa.
“Fuming,” he tweeted.
Immediately afterwards, reports began circulating that Salah was considering quitting the national team altogether because of the way Egypt’s training camp in the Chechen capital Grozny had been run.
Salah was irritated by the idea of being used to boost Kadyrov’s image, a source told CNN.
The controversy only compounded an earlier dispute Salah had with the Egyptian FA before the tournament, when the government had to intervene over the use of his image rights.
, claiming Salah had no problems with the training camp and that there were no political links to their decision to base the team in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Salah had rushed back from the shoulder injury he suffered during the Champions League final but he has kept from commenting on whether it was more than pain that explained his downbeat body language in the games he played.
In fact, Salah tweeted after the Egypt game that there were no divisions within the team.
It seems that any complaints will continue to be raised cryptically, Salah’s agent suggested after being criticised by another social media user.
“To those protesting against my cryptic messages please remind me about the last time they didn’t work,” he said.