The Egyptian national football team met on Friday with strongman Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov
before leaving their training base in the city of Grozny, capital of the Chechen Republic, to fly to Volgograd to play their last match in the World Cup, versus Saudi Arabia.
The meeting came after the Chechen leader invited the Egyptian team to an official dinner at the presidential palace.
Kadyrov granted the star Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah an honorary citizenship during the dinner.
The Chechen leader asked officials of the football federation, headed by Hany Abu Reda, to organise a friendly match between Egypt and their team.
Since the beginning of World Cup matches, the Egyptian team was hosted in Chechnya, with Grozny serving as their residence and training base between the three group stage matches.
The decision to select Chechnya as the training base raised questions by human rights activists and criticised by several. On social media, controversy stirred after Salah was photographed with Kadyrov earlier this month, at the beginning of World Cup in Russia. Critics charged that the photo represented an acceptance of the Chechen leadership’s practices. Chechnya has long been criticised for its human rights record and its crackdown against political opponents and the LGBT community.