The Confederation of African Football (CAF), yesterday, stood up to European clubs, which have threatened to withhold players in their books from the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The European Club Association (ECA), yesterday, threatened to withdraw their players from the African Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to begin in Cameroun next month.
In a letter to CAF, the ECA raised their concerns about letting their players leave for international duty during this time of widespread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and also the peak of their various league and cup competitions.
The tournament was originally due to be played in June and July 2020 but was moved to January and February 2021 following climate concerns in Cameroun.
The competition was also shifted again to January 2022 due to the menace of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, the ECA is saying that it should be postponed again for the same reasons.
The ECA said they fear for the players’ well-being, clubs being without key players for January and February, and whether all players will return “in a timely fashion.”
The association told CAF they have the right to withhold their players from international duty to protect them.
The ECA said: “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 application medical protocols have been implemented and will be enforced.
“As we all know and as is public information, various National Associations have recently failed to properly implement protocols oftentimes with worrying degrees of negligence.
“As far as we are aware, CAF has not yet made available a suitable medical and operational protocol for the AFCON tournament.”
The ECA raising their issue with when the tournament is played resurrects a longstanding conflict between Europe’s and Africa’s match scheduling. They state that because the two periods collide “there cannot be mandatory release” of players for international duty.
Reacting to ECA’s threat, CAF said the competition will go ahead as scheduled.
According to Head, Media Relations and Operations, Luxolo September, rumours of the cancellation of the competition is fake.
Supporting September’s claims, CAF General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, said the confederation is doing everything possible to ensure participants’ safety.
Mosengo-Omba, who held meetings with Cameroun’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi and Public Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie, on Tuesday, said: “The meetings were important in getting a level of understanding on the state of readiness in Cameroun.
“There is a lot of work that is being done. We have to continue with the same momentum. We cannot rest. We have to work around the clock.
“I’m not resting, the LOC cannot rest. CAF cannot rest. Everyone must join the efforts. We want to see a great TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations here in Cameroun in January next year.
“Together with the Minister of Sport, we discussed all the pending issues and the way forward.”