The Premier League top scorer's admirers spotted a strange subplot as he was overlooked for the men's honor
Mohamed Salah did not attend alongside Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski as the football icon missed out on a major award again ? and his supporters have called out a confusing piece of judging at the Best FIFA Awards.
Angry Salah fans said they could understand why the Liverpool and Egypt hotshot had not joined Argentina legend Messi and award winner Lewandowski in appearing at the ceremony by video link.
An image of the former Puskas Award winner was instead shown while Ballon d'Or winner Messi and Bayern and Poland powerhouse Lewandowski learned the results of the governing body's annual competition.
The runaway top scorer in the English top flight is considered by many to be the best player in the world, with Jurgen Klopp among them after the Liverpool boss said in October 2021 that his star striker was above Messi and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
While Lewandowski finished behind Messi as the Paris Saint-Germain forward won his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or in November, Salah was adjudged to be the seventh-best player on the shortlist.
"Rate Salah not turning up," said one viewer as they watched the verdict being delivered.
"Why waste my time if I wouldn't be awarded [the win]?" asked another. "And why would he?" a fellow critic of the decision scorned. "It's a disgrace how they treat him. Makes me so angry."
While Salah provided 37 goals and 11 assists during the 2021 calendar year the award is based upon, the prolific 29-year-old was unable to add to a trophy collection which includes the Champions League and the Premier League with the Reds.
Messi won the Copa America for the first time with his nation and Lewandowski scored an astonishing 69 times in 69 matches as he captained Poland and played an instrumental role in Bayern Munich winning more silverware.
Much to the bemusement of Salah acolytes, FIFA also featured Messi and Lewandowski in their men's team of the year but preferred Borussia Dortmund and Norway prodigy Erling Haaland to Salah.
That led to confusion over how a player not deemed worthy of including in the first XI could be considered one of the top three players.
There was predictable contention elsewhere. "Lewandowski also deserved two Ballon d'Ors which he was robbed out of," said one fan. "Messi just won the popularity contest lottery with his seventh Ballon d'Or."
Two-time African Footballer of the Year Salah is currently at the continent's Cup of Nations with his national side.
The Pharaohs recovered from losing their opening game of the tournament to Nigeria by beating Guinea-Bissau on Saturday, when Salah scored the only goal of the game.
Salah is currently preparing to face bottom-of-the-table Sudan with Egypt in their final Group D match on Wednesday.
Victory would guarantee the seven-time winners of the tournament a place in the knockout stage.