Euro Clubs Threaten To Withhold Players Ahead Of AFCON 2021.

Europe’s top clubs have threatened not to release players for the upcoming TotalEnergies Africa cup of nations to be held in Cameroon next January. 

According to Agence France Presse, the European Club Association, an association that leads clubs across Europe made their concerns to the football world governing body,  FIFA in a statement.

“With regards to applicable protocols,  as far as we are aware, CAF (Confederation of African Football) has not yet made available a suitable medical and operational protocolfor the AFCON tournament,  in the absence of which clubs will not be able to release players for the tournament”, ECA told football world governing body. 

Should this happen,  it means many African leading players in Europe like Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah both of Liverpool, Riyad Mahrez of Man City,  Achraf Hakimi, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Iddrissa Gana will miss the AFCON.

The ECA also raised the issue about the danger of players being unavailable for a longer period due to the potential for travel restrictions or mandatory quarantine being introduced,  in particular in relation to the emerging threat posed by the Omicron of the Coronavirus.

But FIFA rules for the of players for international duty in the midst of the pandemic says clubs can retain players if “there is a mandatory quarantine of at least five days on arrival” in place “where a national team match is supposed to take place” or when the players return to his club.

In an executive board meeting of the ECA-which represents almost 250 European clubs- on December 2 said these principles “must be strickly respected”, according to the letter sent to FIFA deputy Secretary General, Mattias Grasfstroem.

Top clubs could loose players who are called up for the 24 man squads as early as December 27. This is problematic especially for English and French clubs, where there will be a busy schedule of matches especially in the premier league.

“For certain clubs expected to release players including English and French clubs, domestic competition matches are due to take place until early January and hence overlap of 2022 AFCON release dates are unmanageable”, added the ECA chairman Qatar’s Nasser al Khelaifi.

This same issue occurred in March this year when the French clubs refused to release African players for international duty,  couple with the unprecedented postponement of the world cup qualifiers from June to September and allowing the Euros and copa America to take place during that period.

Just recently,  Mohammed Salah was refused to take part in a world cup qualifying match between Egypt and Angola in September, and just last month Liverpool manager referred to the AFCON as “small tournament”.

It should be noted that the confederation of African Football has not made a statement yet with regards to the issue.

However, amidst all these threats, CAF President,  Patrice Motsepe have been in discussions with the Cameroon government on the COVID-19 protocols.

CAF Secretary General,  Veron Mosengo-Omba is currently in Cameroon to oversee the preparation for the upcoming AFCON built for next January.

This further rubbish claims on a possible postponement of the AFCON.

Source: Agence France Presse


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