Mohamed Salah was “shocked” after being ranked seventh in the world in the Ballon d’Or awards in November, but has rejected any “conspiracy theory.”
The annual Ballon d’Or ceremony was back last year after its cancellation due to the pandemic in 2020, with Lionel Messi taking the top prize.
In a year that saw Robert Lewandowski produce a sublime run of goalscoring form for Bayern Munich, it was already a controversial decision by the journalists, national coaches and captains voting.
But the vote breakdown brought bewilderment from Liverpool fans – and many others – as Salah was deemed only the seventh-best player in the world – also behind Jorginho, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Salah’s best-in-the-world form goes without saying, but he has long been underestimated by the wider footballing world.
And speaking to DMC in Egypt, as relayed by Goal, the 29-year-old admitted he was left “shocked” when he heard of the results.
“It shocked me, but there’s nothing I can say,” Salah said.
“No one in the world expected that I would be seventh, but that’s what happened.”
Liverpool’s No. 11 was also left out of the FIFA Men’s Team of the Year in January, despite being ranked third in their Men’s Player of the Year award at the same ceremony.
Four forwards made the XI – first-placed Lewandowski, second-placed Messi, Ronaldo and Erling Haaland – but there was still no room for Salah.
However, he has dismissed any suggestion of a “conspiracy theory,” insisting that he feels his Egyptian nationality may work against him.
“I do not feel the conspiracy theory, but there may be inaccurate choices, and there are many countries which aren’t popular with football knowledge and so far from it,” he continued.
“I do not know what their choices are based on, but I do not believe in the conspiracy theory.
“I don’t have the feeling that there is anything personal against me specifically in the FIFA choices, but this is the reality we are dealing with.”
Salah made 53 appearances over the calendar year of 2021, scoring 37 goals and laying on 12 assists. In 2022 so far, he has scored five and assisted one in seven games.