WASHINGTON, DC – The success of Liverpool Muslim star Mohamed Salah has significantly decreased hate and race crimes in the English Premier League, a new report revealed.
“This is the first time I’ve seen such an exuberant, overt, positive appreciation that includes religion,” Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) told the Washington Post.
According to statistics kept by FARE Network, a London-based nonprofit that studies discrimination in soccer, British fans are notoriously the most poorly behaved in the world.
It analyzed 1,378 soccer matches during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and recorded 539 incidents of racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, nationalist and Islamophobic nature, according to the group’s monthly reports. British fans were responsible for 59 of those incidents, more than any other country.
After Salah came to Liverpool, things changed for the British football fans.
Liverpool fans have taken to affectionately calling Salah, a native of Egypt, “The Pharaoh” or “The Egyptian King.”
“He’s running down the wing,” one goes. “Egyptian king!”
“We brought the lad from Roma and he scores in every game,” starts another. “He’s Egyptian and he’s brilliant and Mohamed’s his name!”
In the streets of a Portuguese city in midweek, the traveling Liverpool fans struck up a new chant to the tune of the 90s hit “Good Enough” by Dodgy with the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too!”
“Winning makes everybody feel good. Salah is playing very well, which excites fans, making them more apt to accept his ethnic and religious background when they may have not before,” Piara said.
“Good players break down barriers. We know that an appreciation of someone as a player does lead to a look into their identity and, for many fans, an acceptance of their identity.”
The African Player of the Year is a devout Muslim and often celebrates his goals by kneeling in prayer.
He also carries a copy of the Holy Qur’an to every match.