CAIRO: A statue of Liverpool footballer Mohamed Salah has been met with derision online since going on display in his native Egypt, with many comparing it to an infamous bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The statue was unveiled with pomp and ceremony at the World Youth Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in the presence of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. With large ears poking out from under a huge Afro hairstyle, Salah is captured in the pose of his now iconic goal celebration.
A broad smile is etched across his face and his oversized head is tilted backwards as the arms on his pint-sized body are stretched out wide. Salah is idolised in Egypt and Liverpool, after his goal-scoring exploits last season took his country to the World Cup finals and his English club to the final of the Champions League.
The statue of him been mocked widely on social media, with many likening its appearance to that of 1970s British singer Leo Sayer or his American counterpart Art Garfunkel. "People thought Cristiano Ronaldo's statue was bad. Wait till you see Mo Salah's," one Twitter user wrote, referring to the bronze bust ridiculed for looking nothing like the Portuguese football superstar.
"Statue carved by Stevie Wonder by the looks of it!" tweeted another, in reference to the blind US musician. One social media user said Salah's statue looked like a "bobble head"-the dolls placed on the dashboards of cars with oversized heads that nod incessantly.
"Oh god!!!!!! They made statute of dwarf Salah," tweeted another. "Yes, it's a statue, but where is Mohamed Salah?" said a post on Facebook. The Egyptian artist who sculpted the statue, Mai Abdallah, has defended her work.
Abdallah said the statue had been made of plaster but became disfigured when the forum's organisers poured bronze over it, much to her surprise. She said the statue was originally only meant to be used teach sculpture to students, in a post on Facebook where she also shared her other statues of Egyptian celebrities. - AFP