Muslim soccer star Mohamed Salah credited with reducing Islamophobia in Liverpool since joining club

Liverpool FC star Mohamed Salah played a key role in helping the Reds secure their sixth European Cup last weekend, but a recent study found the Egyptian phenom is doing more off the pitch.

In a study published last week by the Stanford University Immigration Policy Lab, Salah was credited with a recent drop in Islamophobia and hate crimes since he joined Liverpool in June 2017. The study found that hate crimes fell about 19 percent since he joined the club, relative to what the rate could have been.

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“This decline was more extreme than we would expect based on chance alone, and the decrease in hate crimes was more pronounced than the decrease in any other crime category,” researchers wrote in their findings. “Taken together, the evidence points to Salah’s rise in prominence causing a decrease in hate crimes in Liverpool FC’s home county.”

Liverpool fans also decreased their rate of anti-Muslim tweets compared to other English clubs, the study revealed.

“By watching games, post-game interviews, promotional videos released by the club, and content on Salah's social media pages, fans are exposed to rich information about Salah's life on and off the field,” researchers wrote in their findings. “Viewers see what a Muslim prayer looks like, perhaps for the first time, when Salah scores.”

A study suggested Mo Salah's popularity reduced hate crime in and around Liverpool. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A study suggested Mo Salah's popularity reduced hate crime in and around Liverpool. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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The study used police data, millions of tweets from soccer fans and thousands of others who identified themselves as Liverpool fans to come to the conclusion.

Researchers said the findings “suggest that positive exposure to famous members of an outgroup can mitigate prejudiced attitudes and behaviors, potentially through the provision of new information delivered in an empathy-inducing manner.”

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Salah has made 74 appearances and scored 54 goals since joining Liverpool. He set a record during the 2017-18 season for most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season with 32.