AFCON qualifiers: French clubs block the release of African players

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French clubs block the release of African players

Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) on Thursday announced that the French clubs have reached a consensus to restrict players from travelling for any international games outside of Europe.

The announcement came after club presidents from France’s top two divisions met with the LFP to discuss the upcoming international break and they reached an agreement to restrict their players, citing safety concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.

The implication is that many African teams will be without some of their key players for the remaining two qualifier matches for the upcoming 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) later this month.

The LFP maintains that their decision is based on the FIFA circular 1749 of 5 February:

“At the initiative of the presidents of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 colleges, a consultation was carried out on Wednesday, March 17 with all club presidents concerning players outside France A team likely to participate in a match outside of France, the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March,” the statement read.

“In the absence of a ‘septaine’ exemption for foreign international players made available to their national team and in view of the response times imposed by international regulations, the clubs of Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT have decided to unanimously this Wednesday, March 17, apply the FIFA circular of February 5, 2021, taking into account the many travel restrictions in the world.

“In this context, the clubs will not make available for selection the foreign players summoned for matches outside the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March.”

The remaining two games of the 2022 AFCON qualifiers will be played during the upcoming FIFA break.

Following the report coming from top clubs in Europe, especially England, to restrict their players from travelling for international matches, it remains unseen whether CAF will decide to postpone the qualifier matches.

South America was forced by FIFA to call off their World Cup qualifiers matches scheduled for this month after Premier League clubs threatened to invoke “emergency FIFA Covid rules” and refuse to release their star players.

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