Egypt’s Mohamed Salah is arguably one of the most beloved players in the world, particularly among Liverpool FC fans after the humble, shaggy-haired philanthropist and breaker of religious barriers set the Premier League on fire and brought the team to the final of the UEFA Champions League.
But that final ended in heartbreak for Liverpool, who lost 3-1 to Real Madrid, and especially for Salah, who was taken off injured in the early stages of the game after Madrid’s Sergio Ramos wrestled him to the ground in a tussle for the ball, causing the Egyptian talisman to dislocate his shoulder. To compound the misery, Salah is now also at risk of missing out on the World Cup — Egypt’s first since 1990 — which starts in a couple of weeks.
To say that there has been an overreaction against Ramos on the part of Salah fans and Liverpool supporters around the world would probably invite scorn our way, but clearly it’s quite unprecedented for an incident like this to cause such massive outcry, ranging from the half-a-million people that have signed a Change.org petition to have Ramos retroactively sanctioned to the lawyer in Egypt filing a one billion euro lawsuit against the Spanish defender.
Indonesian Liverpool fans are pretty upset at Ramos, too. CNN Indonesia reported that around 500 people are expected to hold a protest at the Spanish Embassy in Jakarta over Ramos’ judo-esque tackle on Thursday afternoon. Taking a cue from recent protests by Islamic groups such as the “Aksi Bela Islam” (Defend Islam Action) protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja’s supposed blasphemy, Thursday’s protest will be named “Aksi Bela Salah” (Defend Salah Action).
“Because we are talking about soccer and one of our Muslim brothers (Salah) is hurting. We are actually going to hold a peaceful rally,” said protest coordinator Mohammed Dendi Budiman, as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday. “So there will be a group prayer. God willing we will end it with having iftar (breaking of the fast) together.” Budiman assued the media that the protest would be peaceful and free of hooliganism. He said they are even collecting food donations to be given to a religious school for orphans, possibly echoing Salah’s own philanthropic habits.