The Arab world seemed to think that Mohamed Salah scoring against Maccabi Tel-Aviv meant that all of their hatred and hopes that are filled with bad intentions towards the Jewish nation of Israel can be fulfilled, but alas, it’s only a game, and against an Israeli club, not an Israeli team.
While Salah’s remarks prior to the match created quite a stir, making it seem like he was forced to play in Israel and later changing his mind and saying there was never any discussion about coming there, the Arab press and especially in Egypt felt like FC Basel and Salah suddenly represented them in the war that’s has been going on forever, and his goal was like some slap in the face of the Jewish nation.
One paper wrote that Salah humiliated the Zionists on their own land; others referred to his goal as heroics performed on the conquered land of Palestine.
Salah himself was a bit more focused on what this was actually about – sport, football, and making it into the Champions League.
When people curse at me I play better. I couldn’t be happier with the goal I scored, and doing it here makes it even sweeter. I promised my friends we’ll make it to the next stage and I’m glad we completed the job.
Salah wasn’t really harassed, but booed for the entire match. It didn’t really affect his ability, as Basel finished in a 3-3 draw, giving them a 4-3 aggregate win and a ticket to the fourth and final qualifying round before the Champions League group stage.
As for being mature, Salah forgot about his shoe trick from the first match, but didn’t shake hands with Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s players, instead using his fist. Maybe it was somewhat a sign of aggression, or maybe he was simply too afraid of what the more extreme voices in the Arab world and especially his own country would say if he dared shake hands with players who play for an Israeli club, regardless from what nation the players are, or even if they’re Israel-Arabs themselves.