Liverpool defender Joël Matip could be banned from club football after publicly turning down a call-up to the Cameroon squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
The 25-year-old, who has 25 caps for the four-time AFCON champions, had stated that he wanted to skip the international tournament to focus on club football.
Matip has been one of Liverpool’s most consistent defensive performers as Jürgen Klopp’s team have given themselves a fighting chance of ending 2016 in the Premier League’s top two.
However, even if the former Schalke man does sit out the Africa Cup of Nations, there’s a chance he won’t be available to the Reds throughout January.
Matip is one of seven Cameroon players to have pledged not to travel to Gabon in January – also including West Bromwich Albion’s Allan Nyom – and national manager Hugo Broos has pledged to do what he can to ensure they face sanctions for the move.
“These players have put personal interest above those of the national team and the federation reserves the right to take action against the players in accordance with FIFA regulations,” Broos said.
A ban is possible, with Eurosport noting that Cameroon’s football association is within its rights to call upon Fifa to suspend the seven players for the duration of the tournament.
Two years ago, West Ham’s Diafra Sakho pulled out of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea through injury but returned to first team duty just 18 days after being ruled unavailable, scoring the winner in an FA Cup victory over Bristol City.
Sakho and West Ham were both reprimanded following the Senegalese striker’s early return, while the club was handed a fine.
No official ban was issued on that occasion, but West Ham’s then-manager Sam Allardyce was advised to leave Sakho out of his matchday squad for the club’s following league game.
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