A discussion is taking place on social media over whether an Egyptian football player should have been named the African Player of the Year 2017.
Egyptian-born Mohammed Salah, 25, was awarded the title in Accra, Ghana, on 4 January by the Confederation of African football (CAF) after a public vote.
In what appears to have started as a joke, some football fans on social media questioned Salah’s win because they believe Egypt is not an African country.
Another Twitter user posted: “African football is sooo corrupt man Salah is not even African he’s Egyptian.”
It seems that the question over Salah’s entry in the competition began as a joke by Twitter user @ClinicalFirmino on 2 January during a conversation with Liverpool fan @redinrandbur.
Later @ClinicalFirmino who did not wish to be identified confirmed the Twitter conversation was a prank.
“I already know Salah is African. It was a joke. Stop dming me pictures of maps. Thanks,” he posted.
On Arabic Twitter, Mohamed Salah had generated more than 25,000 tweets by Friday morning. Egyptians were also tweeting under the Arabic hashtag #CAF and the English hashtag #CAFAwards2017.
Liverpool and Egypt player Salah came out top after managing to get 625 points in the CAF polls.
He was up against Senegalese Sadio Mane with 507, coming in second place, while in third place came Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who polled 311 points.
While much of Arab Twitter celebrated Salah’s award, calling him the pride of Egypt, some Twitter users continued to be baffled by the win while others expressed their dismay at the confusion.
Although Egypt sits in the north of the African continent it is considered by many to be a Middle Eastern country, partly because the main spoken language there is Egyptian Arabic, the main religion is Islam and it is a member of the Arab League.
In 2012 Al Arabiya news reported that many Egyptians they interviewed for a feature on identity classed themselves mostly as Arabs, Muslims, descendants of the Pharaohs or a combination of all three, but not African.
The BBC World online’s Egyptian news is also covered by its Middle Eastern team, though the stories also appear on the Africa regional pages.
Perhaps the confusion is compounded by the country’s geographical location, sitting in Africa but surrounded by countries located on the southern and eastern seashore of the Mediterranean, such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, which despite their north African location are regarded by many as Arab.
The portion of Egypt known as the Sinai Peninsula also borders Israel and the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Sinai Peninsula is also considered part of Asia.
The year 2017 was the first time football fans and the general public were allowed to vote for the Africa Player of the Year award. Previously African coaches, journalists and national team captains voted for the winners.
Egypt have won the Africa Cup of Nations more than any other side, and in 2017 Salah enjoyed a successful year for both club and country.
He was key in helping the Egyptian team qualify for the World Cup in Russia this year and he was joint top scorer in the World Cup qualifiers scoring five goals.
He has also had a productive season with English premier league team Liverpool scoring 23 goals in just 29 appearances.
Previous winners of the title include Riyad Mahrez, Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba.