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European football clubs are threatening not to make their players available for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Wednesday. They say they are worried about a lack of health protocol adapted to the tournament, a few weeks before its start in Cameroon.
The European Club Association (ECA) threatens not to release international players for the African Cup of Nations in January-February in Cameroon, worried about the health protocol of the ordeal against the backdrop of the Covid-19, according to a letter that AFP obtained Wednesday, December 15.
“To our knowledge, the African Football Confederation has not yet made public a suitable medical and operational protocol for the CAN tournament, in the absence of which the clubs will not be able to release their players for the tournament” , can we read in this email sent last Friday to Fifa.
In addition to the health protocol of the tournament (January 9-February 6), the ECA points out above all the risk of an absence of internationals longer than the period of availability provided for, due to the “quarantines and travel restrictions” linked in particular to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
According to the relaxed rules for the release of internationals, confirmed several times by Fifa since August 2020, clubs can retain their players if “a quarantine of at least five days is mandatory from the arrival” at the place “where is supposed to play in the match of the player’s “national team, or at the club’s venue on his return.
The ECA Board of Directors reaffirmed at the beginning of December that these principles should be “strictly observed”, argues the letter obtained by AFP and addressed to Mattias Grafström, FIFA deputy secretary general in charge of football . “Otherwise, the players should not be released for their national team,” said the ECA.
Asked by AFP, the African Football Confederation refused to comment and referred to a press release published on Wednesday morning where Véron Mosengo-Omba, secretary general of CAF, urges the Cameroonian organizing committee to “work day by day and night to make sure everything is in place for the opening game on January 9, 2022 “.
The sending of this letter from the ECA to Fifa comes as rumors accumulate around a possible cancellation of the CAN, or a new postponement of the tournament, initially scheduled for 2021 but postponed by a year due to the pandemic.
Asked by AFP, a senior leader of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fécafoot) described these speculations as “fake news”.