Liverpool refuses to release Salah for World Cup qualifiers

CAIRO (AP) — Liverpool has refused to release Mohamed Salah for Egypt’s upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of coronavirus restrictions, the country’s soccer association said Monday.

Egypt is on Britain’s red list, so Salah would be required to quarantine upon his return from Cairo and miss two Premier League games.

Egypt is scheduled to play Angola in Cairo on Sept. 1 before traveling to face Gabon four days later in Franceville.

The association said it “continues its contacts with the FIFA …. to have international players be exempted from travel restrictions imposed on them in countries where they play due to coronavirus.”

The Egyptian federation also wanted Salah to play for the national team at the Tokyo Olympics, but it said Liverpool denied the request. Clubs are not obligated to release players for the men’s Olympic tournament.

Salah, who has twice won the Premier League’s Golden Boot award, tested positive for the virus during a visit to Cairo in November, where he attended his brother’s wedding. At the time, he was to join the national team for its game against Togo.

The 29-year-old Salah was the first Egyptian player to become a Premier League champion after joining Liverpool in 2018 from Roma. Liverpool is seeking to strike a new deal to keep Salah with the club.

Egyptians see Salah as a sign of hope for a country battered by poverty and years of political turmoil.

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This story has been corrected to show the game against Angola is on Sept. 1, not Sept. 2.

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