Chechen leader gives Egypt football star Salah honorary citizenship

Moscow (dpa) - The leader of southern Russia's predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has bestowed honorary citizenship upon Egyptian star forward Mohamed Salah, local media reported. The Liverpool star Salah scored Egypt's only goal at the World Cup so far in a 3-1 defeat to hosts Russia. With one game remaining, they have already been eliminated from Group A.

"Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic. I signed the decree tonight ... for this great footballer," Kadyrov said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency on Friday. Kadyrov invited the Egyptian national team, which has been training for the World Cup in Chechnya, to play a friendly match against local football team Akhmat Grozny, the report said.

Salah was pictured with Kadyrov when Egypt trained in Grozny for the first time before the tournament started - a controversial action which raised eyebrows given western governments allege Chechen authorities are guilty of various human rights abuses. Kadyrov has denied those abuses and disputed he was using Salah for propaganda purposes. "We don't use this kind of thing for politics," he told the BBC.

"Our enemies are paid to write articles like that. I didn't invite Mohamed Salah or the Egyptian team. They chose us themselves."