Mohamed Salah must be feeling nearly as comfortable in a tuxedo as a Liverpool kit. Yet again, the Liverpool winger made a trip out of Liverpool Country for yet another honor, in this case being named to Time Magazine’s, to mingle with the other celebrities at a gala in New York.
The magazine rightly recognized the impact that Salah has had in Egypt, the Middle East, and globally. Besides being extremely generous and charitable, doing the work to single-handedly and directly improve lives, his status as a global football super star, and a Muslim one at that, cannot be downplayed. And Salah’s influential status is now being recognized by one of the world’s biggest magazines, as one of six influential figures to appear on the cover.
While it might seem trivial on the surface for Salah to appear alongside Lionel Messi in a Pepsi ad, it is far from it for Arabs and Muslims who are given due representation through the Egyptian King. Yes, even in a Pepsi ad.
“To be the first Egyptian in [this] situation and no one has done this before … it’s something different,” Salah said in an interview with Time, recognizing what stardom means not just to him, but to his community.
However, Salah was not just keen to absorb praise. Nope, he specifically called for a renewed focus on women’s rights, and cited his own evolution on the issue as a guiding light for others. And he was not shy about specifically referring to sexism in the Middle East.
“I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture [and the Middle East]. It’s not optional.
“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.”
Liverpool fan and comedian also weighed in on Salah.
“Mo Salah is a better human being than he is a football player. And he’s one of the best football players in the world” Oliver said.
I can already hear some angry Liverpool fans upset at Salah leaving the continent midweek when there’s an important match against Hudderfield on Friday night. Within the context of the season, that outrage is understandable.
However, with the larger context of Mo Salah being recognized for a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, it’s difficult to be too angry.
Salah, simply by being himself, has given representation to hundreds of millions, and is helping to change the perception of what it means to be a Muslim. And he has done it despite a highly critical media landscape. It is nice, in turn, that another media outlet gives him his due.