Tuesday, April 16, 2024

European Club Association writes FIFA, says releasing players for AFCON impossible

The ECA accused African football associations of failing to “properly implement protocols with worrying degrees of negligence.”

• December 15, 2021

The European Club Association (ECA) says clubs in the region cannot release African players for the forthcoming 2021 African Cup of Nations unless national football associations in Africa meet certain stringent conditions.

“It is the obligation of each national association that wishes to call a player for national team duty to establish to the satisfaction of the respective clubs that all applicable medical protocols have been implemented and will be strictly enforced,” it stated. 

The ECA accused African football associations of failing to “properly implement protocols with worrying degrees of negligence.”

It further demanded that there “cannot be mandatory release in circumstances where the release period’s duration would necessitate players missing official club matches, “that is, official club matches scheduled to take place within the release period.”

“The unavailability of players for club activities cannot extend beyond the agreed release periods (for example, quarantine or travel restrictions meaning that players would be unavailable for longer than the release period).

“Against this backdrop, please note tha, at its meeting of December 2, 2021, the ECA executive board unanimously re-confirmed its position that the three principles referred to above must be strictly respected and, should this not be the case, that players not be released for national team duty,” said the ECA in an official letter to FIFA Deputy Secretary-General Matthias Grafstrom and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The ECA, in the letter, stated that because of the lack of adequate health measures taken by CAF relating to the prevention against COVID-19, European clubs did not have the intention to release African players for the 2021 AFCON.

The ECA earlier implored FIFA and CAF to ensure necessary precautions are in place to protect players and club interests ahead of the tournament.

“The board also expressed its deep concerns around player safety and welfare ahead of the African Cup Nations and upcoming international windows in early 2022, particularly in light of the worsening public health situation and the severe challenges faced during recent international windows,” stated the ECA.

It added, “The board agreed to engage urgently with FIFA to ensure all necessary precautions are in place to protect players and club interests as the health situation continues to deteriorate in an alarming manner.” 

The 33rd edition of Africa’s most prestigious football tournament will be held in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

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