Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah presented his views on VAR, the hot topic of debate in recent weeks.
The Egyptian feels that the technology is ‘too fair’ and it’s inclusion has compromised the passion of the people around the game. He maintained that there needs to be room for human error in football. Salah also mentioned that he is expecting to receive more penalties this season thanks to the addition of VAR.
“I love football how it is. It’s okay to sometimes protect the players from dangerous play. But for me, I accept football with the mistakes of the referee, mistakes of the playe,” Salah told CNN.
“That’s how football gets more exciting. That’s how people get more passionate about it. But VAR is too fair. Last year, I had a penalty in the final Champions League and it helped me a lot. But, it’s too fair. We like it with mistakes.
“More penalties for me. You will see that.
“Of course I want it. But for me the team trophy comes first. (…) Especially the Premier League.
“Maybe we scored the most of goals for Liverpool but I can’t take that from the other players because really they work really hard. They defend a lot. They give us each ball and we always try to make the difference. The most important thing is to keep winning. The goals will come.
“I think that’s what makes football so exciting, the passion and everything. So I’m happy to play each game, I don’t want even to rest one game, so I’m happy to play for a long time. Even if it was 12 months, I will play.”
The winger also spoke about the high expectations at a club like Liverpool and revealed Jurgen Klopp’s message to the players ahead of the new season. The players are attempting to replicate Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ season from2003/04 when they went a whole campaign unbeaten.
“If you play in a club like Liverpool, there’s always big expectation, you have to win something. So there’s always expectation in the football,” he said.
“Keep working hard and if you want to win another thing you have to work harder than maybe you did in the last season and you have to really be humble. Okay, Champions League is over. It was last year, so forget it. Fight for the new trophies again this season.
“We’re playing against Man City, I think both teams are the same level at the moment and they are playing good, we’re playing good. So we just need to focus on our game, not their game, as much as you can win each game it’s going to be okay.
“Like last season I think we lost only one game. Only one game. So this season we have to focus on ourselves not to lose any game.”
Mohamed Salah represented Egypt during this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations but it was a testing experience for the forward as the team were eliminated by South Africa in the round of 16.
The Liverpool star has endured a difficult relationship with the Egyptian Football Association in recent years and things grew increasingly tense when the host nation exited the competition. Manager Javier Aguirre was dismissed and EFA president Hany Abo Rida resigned.
“We didn’t perform at the top level – I’m not just talking about as players but as a team, but there was a lot of pressure,” he told CNN in an exclusive interview. “For the players in the national team, they were not happy about a lot of things.”
Salah admits to having several run-ins with the federation, even going as far as to call their exchanges a “competition”.
“The federation take it as a competition with me. My position’s a little bit different than the players, so not because I’m a star, but because it makes me comfortable,” he added. “For example, African Nations, we went in the hotel and people come to the hotel very easy, they sit downstairs, which is not normal. We had one day off and I couldn’t go down from the room until 9:30pm.
“When I tried to go down, 200 people were with me. And they say, ‘Why are you complaining?’ I complain because I’m a human being, I want to be with the players.”
Despite the struggles that come with the job, Salah insists he has no plans to walk away from international football and enjoys representing his country.
“I love this country. When I left Egypt at 19, something pushed me forward to perform, to be iconic for the kids, for the kids to dream one day to be like me – it was in my mind,” he said. “I want to be that person. So, to retire from the national team is something huge for me inside.”
During their Africa Cup of Nations campaign, controversy as well as disappointment also followed the team. Amr Wahda was reinstated in the squad despite his earlier expulsion on the basis of sexual harassment allegations from a Dubai-based Egyptian model.
A players’ revolt was cited as the reason behind Wahda’s inclusion and Salah’s tweet made him the face of it. It read: “many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn’t be sent to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out.”
The 27-year-old came under heavy criticism in the media but denies any involvement in Wahda’s reinstatement.
“I am not the national team captain and am not the team manager or coach. If I was that powerful I could have changed a lot of things there. I am a player but they just put it on me,” he said.
“What I meant by the tweet is, that [sexual harassment] happened before and is happening now. He has to get treatment and rehabilitation to make sure it is not going to happen again. I mean not someone in particular, but in general,” he said.
“People misunderstand what I am saying. Women have to have their rights in the Middle East. First we have to accept that there is a problem – and that is very difficult to accept as the problem is running deep.
“Second, the woman has the right to talk about anything. When my daughter has a problem, she has to feel support from me, to come to me to talk about the problem. The most important thing is the fear of the wife, the fear from her husband, from her father. The fear is not healthy for anyone, so we have to fix that.”
Those changes are something Salah believes he’s now in a position to affect as he describes himself as “that person now who is fighting the subject and can see that it is very wrong”.
It’s a standing he’s been afforded since being elevated to superstar status at Liverpool. The forward has been the club’s most prolific scorer since arriving at Anfield in the summer of 2017 before tasting Champions League glory last season – a memory he holds dear.
He said: “It’s a dream for everyone, the city, the player, to win a Champions League, something great and something very big. So everyone was having that moment, I was like feeling like a kid dream comes true.”
Uganda and Egypt spoke ahead of their final Group A game in the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.
Egypt top the group having won both their previous games against Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Uganda are second with four points after a draw and victory in the other two games.
See their answers above: