Update (one year on) 2 Feb 2015: Salah has been quietly moved out of Chelsea having barely played a game for them
The following was posted 24 Jan 2014
Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian footballer who has just signed for Chelsea - a club owned by Roman Abramovic - for £11 million. The English sports media this morning is covering this story with headlines like "Salah: I am not an antisemite". Of course, Salah is not an antisemite. Like most Muslim non-antisemites he does not explicitly hate all 'Jews', only 'Jews who believe they have a right to their historical homeland', i.e.'Zionists'.
In August 2013 Salah's team Basel FC were drawn against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in a champions league qualifier**. In the home tie Salah refused to shake the hands of the Israeli team, which is a remarkable achievement given that the EUFA protocol requires the home team to line up while the away team walks along the line shaking each hand. Salah managed to 'avoid this' by going to the touchline, pretending to tie up his shoe laces. He also refused to shake hands with any Maccabi players after the game, which Basel won 1-0. After the match Salah announced he would refuse to play in the return leg in Israel. Only after his club threatened to terminate his contract if he did not travel he announced:
I will fly to Israel , Football is more important than politics and it is my job. In my thoughts I am going to play in Palestine and not Israel and I am also going to score and win there. The Zionist flag won’t be shown in the Champions League.Elder of Ziyon covered the events of the return leg in Tel Aviv in which Salah again avoided shaking hands with the Maccabi players (this time by bumping them instead). As usual EUFA, who are so determined to 'drive out racism' from the game refused to take any action when it came down to antisemitism.
In December 2012 when Chelsea's star player (another Muslim) Edin Hazard joined a petition to boycott Israel from hosting the EUFA under-21 championship I wrote to Chelsea asking if Roman Abramovic (who claims to love Israel) was aware of the stance of one of his players. My letter actually produced a positive outcome. In signing Salah, Abramovic could still turn this into something positive by asking his new employee to publicy apologise for his previous comments and to prove his sincerity by getting Chelsea to play a match in Tel Aviv - with Salah shaking hands with the Israelis.
** Incredibly Basel have been drawn against Maccabi Tel Aviv again - this time in the Europa League - another 2-legged tie to be played in February. This is presumably one of the reasons Salah was keen to get a move away from Basel in mid-season.
Update: I have sent the following letter to my contact at Chelsea (note I promised not to reveal the name of this person):
We were in contact about a year ago when I alerted you to the fact that Edin Hazard was named as one of the footballers supporting an antisemitic boycott of Israel hosting the EUFA under-21 championships. You were very helpful on that occasion and were able to confirm that Hazard did not support the boycott.
Today I see that Chelsea have received assurances from Mohamed Salah that he did not make the antisemitic statements and actions that have been previously attributed to him. I am not sure what antisemitic statements and actions this refers to to but what I DO know is that he WAS certainly responsible for a number of actions and statements in August (in relation to Basel's two-legged tie with Maccabi Tel-Aviv) that I (and many others) consider to be pure antisemitism. There is no denying, for example, that he refused in both games to shake the hands of his Israeli opponents and there is no denying that he initially refused to even go to the match in Israel and when he was forced to by Basel FC he made an antisemtic statement about Israel. The details are on a blog posting I have made today.
Fortunately, as I said in the article, there is a simple way that Salah can at least genuinely apologize for his actions and demonstrate that he is indeed not an antisemite. Chelsea can and should arrange for him to go to Israel and publicly shake the hands of the Maccabi players. Ideally this could be done in a friendly match involving Chelsea FC. Anything less than such an action will always leave open the notion that Chelsea have signed a nasty, unsporting antisemite who also demonstrates a total lack of respect for his fellow professionals. I do not believe Chelsea FC would be happy to have such an employee would they?
Edgar DavidsonUpdate 31 Jan 2014: Chelsea have responded to me
Update: I have now compiled a catalogue of players involved in the football Jihad.