Mohamed Salah’s prowess on the football field has made him one of the modern stars of the “beautiful game”, his positive impact off the field however is one area where the Liverpool star stands above his peers.
A study conducted by the Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University, in the United States, has found that Salah’s popularity has helped to reduce hate crime in the city, since the Egyptian striker joined Liverpool in the summer of 2017 from Roma.
The Stanford University research, which analysed approximately 15 million tweets from football fans in the UK and 8,600 Liverpool fans before and after Salah’s arrival, found a staggering 53 per cent drop anti-Muslim tweets among Liverpool fans and an 18.9 per cent drop overall in anti-Muslim hate crimes on Merseyside.
These figures stand in stark contrast to the national trend where anti-Muslim hate crime has been on the rise, occasionally at an alarming rate. In the week following the white supremacist attack on worshippers at two New Zealand mosques in March, for example, a 593 per cent increase in anti-Muslim hate crime was reported.
The survey looked into whether exposure to successful celebrities from stigmatised groups can reduce prejudice toward the larger group, in this case Muslims. The authors conclude that “overall, we interpret these results to support the hypothesis that Salah’s arrival at Liverpool FC caused a decrease in extreme acts of bigotry.”
“The survey experiment suggests that these results may be driven by increased familiarity with Islam,” says the study.
“Our findings indicate that positive exposure to outgroup role models can reveal new information that humanises the outgroup writ large.”
Salah won the hearts of every Liverpool fan very early on. Their affection for the 26-year-old was captured on a video that went viral. Fans could be seen chanting “if he scores another few then I’ll be Muslim too.” Another chant describes him as a “gift from Allah.”