An Egyptian lawyer has filed a €1 billion ($1.16 billion) lawsuit against Real Madrid soccer star Sergio Ramos for a tackle which injured Egypt’s top player Mohamed Salah in the Champions League final on Saturday, the UK’s Evening Standard reported Monday.
Egyptians are holding their breath amid fears that Salah could miss the World Cup after suffering an serious injury when wrestled to the ground by Ramos.
Ramos, who locked arms with Salah before falling on top of the forward’s shoulder, became an instant hate figure for millions of Egyptians on social media, as well as the masses who watched the game live at cafes.
“Ramos the Dog,” “Animal,” “We will take revenge,” “Dirty” and many more insults were thrown at Ramos on social media following Real’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev.
Salah left the pitch in tears holding his shoulder after just half an hour, a sight that prompted some Egyptians to burst into tears.
Reported to have suffered a sprain in his shoulder ligaments, Salah remains doubtful for the World Cup in Russia, with the clock ticking before Egypt’s first game against Uruguay on June 15. His Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game that the injury was serious, but Salah has not given up hope of making the World Cup.
Salah is to travel to Spain on Wednesday to begin receiving treatment on the shoulder. “It was a very tough night, but I’m a fighter,” he said late Sunday. “Despite the odds, I’m confident that I’ll be in Russia to make you all proud. Your love and support will give me the strength I need.”
“Ramos intentionally injured Mo Salah and should be punished about his actions,” lawyer Bassem Wahba said, according to the Standard.
“I’ve filed a lawsuit and a complaint to (soccer governing body) FIFA,” Wahba said. “I’ll ask for compensation, which could exceed €1 billion, for the physical and psychological harm that Ramos gave Salah and the Egyptian people.”
The former Egyptian midfield player Mido was one of many to accuse Ramos of deliberately targeting Salah to take him out of the game. “Anyone who understands football knows that Sergio Ramos injured Salah intentionally,” tweeted Mido.
And Monday saw accusations that Ramos has locked arms with an opponent in the past, in an ostensibly similar move.
Footage from the Champions League final a year ago, in which Real were also victorious, shows Ramos tackling — and apparently attempting to lock arms with — Juventus player Dani Alves, who manages to break free as Ramos falls on him.
If the vitriol targeting Ramos seems exaggerated, it reflects how vital the speedy Salah has become for his national team ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
The 25-year-old scored 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season, a tally that earned him the Golden Boot for Europe’s top scorer and the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
Without him, Egypt’s chances are “almost nonexistent,” said Karim Said, editor-in-chief of YallaKora, a football-focused website.
“The (team’s) attack is mainly based on Salah,” said Said.
Thanks to Salah, who has become a source of pride for millions across the Arab world, Egyptians were looking to the World Cup with hope and enthusiasm.
Ramos’s dubious tackle, which went unpunished by match referee Milorad Mazic, prompted one furious fan watching the game to yell “Dirty guy” at the Spaniard, although his screams were drowned out by a sea of other insults.
On Sunday morning, the headline on Egyptian newspaper El Watan said it was reverting Ramos’s fate to God, in a tone echoed on social media networks.
Ramos’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have been flooded with insults in Arabic and English, some even translated into Spanish.
A petition was even launched on the Change.org platform, calling on FIFA and UEFA to punish Ramos for “intentionally hurting Mohamed Salah.” The petition has collected more than 400,000 signatures.
Ramos sent Salah a “Get Well Soon” Twitter message, adding he regretted that football “sometimes (shows) its bad side,” but “above all, we are comrades.”