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26th Dec 2021

Clubs granted permission to delay player release for Africa Cup of Nations

Callum Boyle

Players were expected to join up with their international sides on Monday 27 December

Clubs have been granted permission to delay the release of their African players for the Africa Cup of Nations until 3 January after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) accepted a request from several domestic leagues.

As reported by AP News, clubs were set to allow players to join up with their international sides on 27 December, meaning they would be missing for an extended period of time, but sides will now keep their players until a week before the tournament begins on 9 January.

FIFA deputy secretary general Mattias Grafström confirmed the news in a statement released on Christmas Day.

He wrote: “CAF has decided that for those players who have official club matches between the 27 December 2021 and 3 January 2022, the participating member associations in question are to be directed that these players may remain with their clubs to participate in these matches and be released after the last match during this period.”

Grafström continued by saying that the decision had been made in the ‘spirit of mutual cooperation remain between CAF and all relevant stakeholders.’

He said: “It has been highlighted to FIFA that this decision is taken in the spirit of goodwill and solidarity with the affected clubs in recognition of the fact that they, like all members of the football community, have been adversely affected by the onset of the COVID pandemic.

“It is also assumed that a spirit of mutual cooperation remain between CAF and all relevant stakeholders in this regard, including related to the release of players and the provision of sporting exemptions to travel and quarantine restrictions if required in the future.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had previously been critical of initially releasing players after the Boxing Day period, with the German set to lose key players such as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as they represent their nations in Cameroon.

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