CAIRO: Egypt star Mohamed Salah said exiled team-mate Amr Warda "shouldn't be sent straight to the guillotine" after the forward was banished from the squad over mounting sexual harassment allegations.
The 25-year-old Warda was excluded ahead of Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo after sexual harassment claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms.
Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda's alleged lewd comments.
The decision came hours after another viral clip posted on Twitter by a social media user showed him apparently exposing himself to her.
AFP cannot verify the authenticity of the brief video.
Salah, who has made a point of speaking up for women in the Muslim world, lent his support to the embattled Warda while condemning his actions.
"Women must be treated with the utmost respect. 'No' means 'no'. Those things are and must remain sacred. I also believe that many who make mistakes can change for the better and shouldn't be sent straight to the guillotine, which is the easiest way out," Salah tweeted shortly after Egypt's qualification for the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations.
"We need to believe in second chances. We need to guide and educate. Shunning is not the answer."
Warda, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Atromitos from PAOK in Greece, issued an apology in a video on Facebook.
"I apologise for what I've done, I apologise to my family, the players and the technical staff," he said.
"I'm sorry, I promise that in the coming period I will not do anything to bother others."
In 2017, Portuguese football club CD Feirense terminated Warda's contract over claims that he sexually harassed the wives of two of his team-mates.
His tenure lasted only three days and he was transferred to PAOK.