Liverpool icon slams ‘sustained, hostile’ Salah ‘stereotyping’

Matt Stead

Mohamed Salah has been the victim of a “sustained and hostile” attack that could be related to his nationality.

Robbie Fowler feels the Liverpool forward has been unfairly lambasted for diving in recent months.

Salah has come in for criticism after numerous incidents of apparent play-acting, including against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and ‘desperate’ Arsenal.

But Fowler has defended one of his many Liverpool successors in a column for the Daily Mirror. He writes:

‘I was never one for diving – if I had a chance to get a shot off, I’d always take it.

‘Yet, I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief at the criticism aimed at Mohamed Salah in recent weeks for what people have been particularly eager to call cheating.

‘It’s been sustained and hostile, and I’m wondering why.

‘Why it’s been much worse than that aimed at Harry Kane this season, for instance, or in the past say Michael Owen or David ­Beckham (and I’m not singling them out!).

‘We have to be very careful as football fans. We need to stop and think about whether Salah is being targeted for where he comes from and who he is.

‘It seems like stereotyping, and­ possibly because he’s an overseas player.

‘If that is the case, it’s totally ­unacceptable.

‘Yes, there have been times when Salah has gone over a bit ­theatrically, ­sometimes he may have gone down a bit easily.

‘Two things: one, who doesn’t now? Two, he’s ­almost always been kicked. In fact, he has been kicked mercilessly for 18 months. And if he doesn’t go down in a way which let’s the ref see he’s been kicked, then will he get the decision? No chance.

‘If Salah were this massive cheat people seem to be trying to portray him as, why was the penalty he ­converted against Newcastle at the end of December the first awarded for Liverpool at Anfield in 18 months? Think about that.

‘In that time, he’s scored almost 50 league goals, and not one until this past Boxing Day was a penalty in a home game.

‘That penalty against ­Newcastle ­almost certainly wasn’t one. But how many should he have had ­before that but wasn’t given because he didn’t make it clear he’d been kicked?

‘Since then, the others have looked pretty clear, even if he was a bit ­exaggerated in going down.

‘Even the one not given against ­Palace last weekend – no doubt there was contact, and other strikers would have got the decision.

‘Yes, times have changed from when I hated the idea of going down.

‘But, as for the suspicion and ­stereotyping of overseas players, maybe they haven’t changed enough.’