Clubs in Europe are seeking to meet with the world football governing body, FIFA, over the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.
The clubs are raising concerns over the safety of players amidst the rising cases of the omicron variant of Covid-19 which has been reported in several countries especially in Southern Africa.
The Africa Cup of Nations is a one-month-long football tournament for qualified countries in the continent. It is scheduled to take place in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022.
Unfortunately for the 33rd edition of the tournament, the tournament is under threat due to the rising omicron. Some European and American countries are already closing their borders against countries that have cases of the virus.
More so, some countries have declared partial lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus which means that if the reported cases of the virus continue to rise, some clubs in Europe might not be willing to release their players for the tournament which is against FIFA protocol.
A statement released by the European Club Association (ECA) board pointed that the major concern the board has over the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations is “the worsening public health situation” across the world.
Hence, ECA hopes to meet with FIFA to ensure that “all necessary precautions are in place to protect players and club interests as the health situation continues to deteriorate alarmingly.”
Aside from the health concern ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, most top clubs in Europe might have to lose their top players for a month due to the tournament.
This is so because, unlike the European Championship that often take place at the end of the season, the Africa Cup of Nations is being held when most leagues in the world are in the most competitive stage of the season.
A coach like Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool have been very critical of and tournament which will force him to lose three of his most important players – Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), and Naby Keita (Guinea).
Another seriously affected Premier League club is Watford which could be without Peter Etebo (Nigeria), Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria), William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal).
Coach Brendan Rodgers of Leicester City would not also be happy because he could be without Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), and Nampalys Mendy (Senegal) during the Africa Cup of Nations.
Coach Mikel Arteta of Arsenal would not also be happy because the club might be without Thomas Partey (Ghana), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), and Mohamed Elneny (Egypt) for a month.
Also, Crystal Palace might be without Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast). While Chelsea will miss the services of their first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (Senegal), and Hakim Ziyech (Morocco).