Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has announced Liverpool’s Egypt forward Mohamed Salah is now an honorary citizen of the Russian republic.
Salah is at the World Cup in Russia with Egypt, whose training base is in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Salah, 26, has been pictured with Kadyrov, who was accused of using the player for political propaganda.
Kadyrov’s regime has been criticised for alleged human rights abuse, a claim he denied this week in a BBC interview.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of Chechnya! That’s right!” Kadyrov wrote on Friday.
“At a gala dinner, which I gave in honour of the Egyptian team, I handed Mohamed Salah a copy of the decree and a badge. This is a deserved title.”
Salah missed Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay as he continued to recover from the shoulder injury that forced him out of Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat.
He returned for the game with hosts Russia and scored a penalty in Egypt’s 3-1 defeat. The African nation face Saudi Arabia in Volgograd on Monday knowing they can qualify from the group stage.
Listen again to ‘Mo Salah: Football is Life’ here