Salah show might be affected by scandal

June 20, 2019
In this June 25, 2018 file photo, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah chases the ball during the Group A match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the 2018 World Cup at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia.
In this June 25, 2018 file photo, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah chases the ball during the Group A match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the 2018 World Cup at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia.

Mohamed Salah's status as the main attraction in his home country at the African Cup of Nations threatens to be overshadowed by yet another football corruption scandal.

On the field, Salah has the chance to lead Egypt to a record-extending eighth African Cup and do it in front of his own people. That would provide a joyous end to the season for arguably Africa's best player, who scored in the final and won the Champions League trophy with Liverpool after narrowly missing out on the Premier League title.

An Egypt success wouldn't just be for Salah. It would provide respite for a football-obsessed country of nearly 100 million shaken by severe civil unrest for nearly a decade.

Egypt's turmoil, which began with the popular overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, affected all walks of life, including football. Egypt's team, after winning a third straight African Cup in 2010, disintegrated amid the distractions at home and failed to even qualify for the next three tournaments.

With Salah at the forefront, Egypt returned to make the final two years ago, losing to Cameroon after a late goal. Egypt opens this African Cup against outsider Zimbabwe on Friday, and Salah hopes he's leading the home team's attack in the final in front of 75,000 roaring Egyptians at Cairo International Stadium on July 19.

There couldn't be a better stage for Salah to shine for his country. But there's trouble behind the scenes.

The head of African soccer, who is also a FIFA vice-president and an ally of Gianni Infantino, was questioned by French authorities while attending a FIFA meeting in Paris two weeks ago. Ahmad, who goes by one name, was released without being charged, according to the African confederation he runs, but appears to still be the subject of a criminal investigation and an ethics committee probe by FIFA.

French prosecutors haven't commented on the investigation, which involves allegations of improper business deals negotiated by Ahmad as president of the Confederation of African Football.

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