The Mo Salah effect: Islamophobia in Liverpool falls following striker's arrival, study finds

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Muslim footballer Mo Salah's high strike rate for Liverpool and his kind personality are behind reduction in Islamophobia in the city, a study has found.

He helped bring the Champions League trophy back to Liverpool with his early penalty against Tottenham Hotspur but the Mo Salah phenomenon in the city isn't just about hitting the back of the net.

Researchers from America's Stanford University believe his presence in the team has seen hate crimes against Muslims on Merseyside plummet by almost 20% since the Egyptian's arrival.

But it's not just academics that have noticed a difference, the Muslim community in Liverpool has seen for itself the Salah effect.

"Guys like Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, these guys playing at the level that they're playing football and it gives the world an opportunity to say 'Ey, Muslims are like everybody else'," said Imam Abu Usamah Atthahabi.

Imam Abu Usamah Atthahabi told ITV News he could see what effect Muslim players had on Liverpool. Credit: ITV News

Salah's arrival has not only brought goals and trophies to Merseyside, it has also brought an influx of Muslim football supporters who say they feel part of the club.

"In that moment you don't just feel that Salah is welcome, you feel welcome too," said Hamzah Khalique-Loonat, a presenter of Tactics Weekly podcast.

He added: "It opens up who you believe your friends could be, who you believe your family could be, you become a lot more accessible to others and they're more accessible to you."

Despite research pointing to a huge drop in Islamophobia, one Muslim who already supported the club before the Egyptian revolution told ITV News he "never noticed any racism towards Muslims" in Liverpool.