Following the release of widely-publicised photos of Egyptian international Mohamed Salah and the Chechnyan leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, Kick It Out have released a joint statement with Pride in Football, the alliance of LGBT+ fan groups in the UK.

The statement reads: “Kick It Out and Pride in Football are extremely disappointed to see football being exploited for political propaganda by the leader of a region with a horrendous record on human rights, particularly towards the LGBT+ community. No footballer, particularly one as distinguished and internationally-recognised as Mohamed Salah, should be used for this purpose.

“For both organisations, this incident raises a number of questions:

1. Why did FIFA ignore the concerns raised by groups such as Fare Network, who have already spoken out about the treatment of the LGBT+ community in Chechnya and the likelihood that Ramzan Kadyrov would exploit this opportunity to gain political capital?

2. Why did the Egyptian FA choose to base themselves in Chechnya, a region where last year Human Rights Watch reported that gay men were detained, tortured and subject to a purge, and where LBT women are in daily fear for their lives?

3. Why did FIFA allow the Egyptian FA to base themselves in Chechnya, just over a year since the governing body published a ‘landmark’ Human Rights Policy which was supposed to strengthen its commitment to the protection of internationally recognised human rights?

4. Why did the Egyptian FA allow Kadyrov to visit their base, a leader who last year called the LGBT+ community ‘devils’ who are ‘not people’ and need to be removed from Chechnya to ‘purify our blood’?

5. Why did Mohamed Salah and those advising him not consider the message his appearance alongside Kadyrov would send to LGBT+ people across the world, including Chechnya, Russia and Liverpool itself?

“Ultimately, the widely-publicised photos are a reminder that football and sport do not exist in a vacuum. Players, Football Associations and international governing bodies must always be aware that their actions can influence wider society and in turn, the rights and lives of minority groups.

“Ramzan Kadyrov has already secured a PR victory for his domestic audience, but it is not too late for Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian FA, FIFA and everyone in football to learn from this incident. We must always do everything we can to prevent the game being exploited by human rights abusers, and continue to send a clear message that the LGBT+ community are an integral part of football and wider society.”