Mohamed Salah, championed for his support of women, under fire for pardoning teammate accused of sexual harassment

Cassandra NegleyYahoo Sports Contributor
Mohamed Salah is under fire for supporting a teammate accused of sexual harassment after earlier remarks that men should treat women better. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Mohamed Salah is under fire for supporting a teammate accused of sexual harassment after earlier remarks that men should treat women better. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool striker who wants to see men in the Middle East treat women better, is getting blowback after supporting a teammate accused of sexual harassment and helping in his reinstatement.

Amr Warda was cut from Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations squad on Wednesday following allegations that he sent inappropriate messages. Salah and Pharaohs captain Ahmed Elmohamady intervened on the midfielder’s behalf and he was reinstated for the host team on Friday.

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It’s resulted in a complicated stance for Salah, who was championed two months ago for his strong stance on giving women more respect.

Warda accused of sending ‘lewd,’ ‘aggressive’ messages

Merhan Keller, a British-Egyptian model, shared screenshots this week showing inappropriate messages sent by Warda on Whatsapp and Instagram that were “lewd” and “aggressive,” according to The Guardian. Keller also shared screenshots and videos of conversations reportedly from other women who had received harassment, per the Guardian. And other women on social media shared similar screenshots, per the BBC. Warda, 25, allegedly became unpleasant when he was rejected.

The Egyptian Football Federation (EFA) released a statement saying Warda was dismissed “in order to maintain the state of discipline, commitment and concentration.” He was set to miss the entire tournament, which Egypt is hosting.

It’s at least the second time he’s been accused of harassing women. In 2017 while with a Portuguese club, he allegedly harassed two teammates’ wives and was cut from the team three weeks in.

Warda apologizes, reinstated

Warda posted a short video to social media the following day apologizing for the incident to his family, teammates, the EFA and “anyone who is upset at me or anyone I have upset,” per the Guardian.

The EFA decided Friday to reinstate Warda and suspend him only until the end of the first round of the tournament. In a statement, President Hani Abu Reda “praised the spirit of solidarity between the players and their desire to pardon their colleague Amr Warda and to lift the suspension from him.”

That solidarity was pushed by Salah, per reports, and came after teammates, notably the captain, held up his jersey after Egypt’s victory on Wednesday.

Salah intervenes for Warda

Salah, 27, gained worldwide recognition as an advocate for women when TIME Magazine named him one of its 100 Most Influential People in April. Salah said women in Egypt deserve more than they receive now and “it’s not optional” to change how they are treated in the country for the better.

He told TIME:

“I support the woman more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now, at the moment.”

Salah stood in support of Warda with a series of tweets Wednesday in which he wrote that “many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn’t be sent straight to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out.”

Fans, media question Salah’s stance

Social media users, including media members, are taking the striker to task and many are asking what chance this if for Warda, because “it’s not the second.” They’ve called Salah complicit and questioned his role in the change the star player said he wants to see in the region.

Salah had a chance to take action in a cause he has championed and for which he was named a titan, but instead went the opposite direction. Egypt plays Uganda on Sunday in the third round of the group stage.

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