Liverpool’s decision to block Egypt from taking Mohamed Salah to the Tokyo Olympics is a story that has received plenty of coverage in the player’s home country. Now, following the official squad announcement, manager Shawky Gharib has sought to clarify the situation.
The Egypt U23 manager, while admitting disappointment at the decision and claiming Salah wanted to play, said that in the end it was plans to go ahead with the Africa Cup of Nations this coming January rather than postpone the tournament that forced Liverpool’s hand.
“Salah wanted to participate in the Olympics [and] we were having informal contacts with him,” Gharib said to On Sport FM this week as relayed by KingFut. “The negotiations stopped because of the AFCoN. If it had been postponed, Salah would have played with us.”
Gharib further clarified Salah will be available to play for Egypt at AFCoN in January, with the tournament set to take place in Cameroon from January 9th to February 6th of 2022. However, regardless Liverpool’s wishes, the club could not have blocked him playing in it.
Unless a player formally retired from international duty, they are obligated to join their national teams if called upon for friendlies and tournament held under the auspices of FIFA or the continental federations. The Olympics, not being a FIFA event, is a different matter.
Liverpoo’s pre-season is set to begin on July 12th with Salah in attendance, while players who participated at the Euros or Copa America will be given a minimum of three weeks—and preferably a full month—off to rest and recharge before returning to the club.