After dozens of green lasers were fired into the face of Egypt’s Mohamed Salah as he prepared to take a penalty kick during a penalty shootout, Senegal’s football federation was fined £143,000 for disrespectful fan behavior.
Following a 1-1 result over two legs, the star was targeted in a World Cup qualifier on March 29 at the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium outside Dakar, Senegal’s capital.
Unsurprisingly, the Liverpool striker’s kick went past the bar, with television images showing his face illuminated by a bright green light. Sadio Mane, Salah’s club teammate, slotted away a penalty kick to send Senegal to the World Cup finals in Qatar.
Following the game, the Egyptian Football Association said that its players were subjected to racist abuse, including being pelted with bottles and stones, as well as being targeted by lasers, while being watched by a noisy audience of 50,000.
The lasers, a pitch invasion by Senegalese fans, an insulting banner, and the national federation’s failure to enforce peace and order in the stadium have all been probed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee, according to FIFA. Senegal was also fined and compelled to play a competitive match in an empty stadium in the future.
All of this will be of little consolation to Egypt, who claimed thugs attacked them throughout the game. According to the Egyptians, their team bus was ambushed on the way to the stadium, which is around 20 miles outside Cairo.
Egypt claimed that its players were harassed and showered with missiles throughout the warm-up and again as they exited the pitch at full time, with security personnel protecting Salah.
The green light from the laser pens shone on the players’ faces and clothes during the game. Egypt led 1-0 after the first leg, but Hamdi Fathi leveled the tie with an own goal just four minutes into the second half.
Senegal settled for the shootout after a nail-biting match that Senegal won 3-1. Egypt had already tasted the pain of a penalty shootout loss to Senegal in the African Cup of Nations, which was held in Cameroon just weeks before.
The FIFA disciplinary panel also handed down further fines and stadium bans after hearing hundreds of similar complaints from World Cup qualifying games held since January. After Nigeria was ousted from the playoffs at home by Ghana, fans invaded the pitch in Abuja, resulting in a £125,000 fine and a one-game stadium suspension.
For crowd unrest in matches against Morocco and Syria, FIFA fined Congo £100,000 and Lebanon £80,000. A one-game stadium closure was also imposed on the visiting teams. Fans of Chile and Colombia were fined £80,000 and £45,000, respectively, for discrimination at their home games, as well as other offenses.