AFCON Covid-19 Testing a “Total Scandal” Berates Bertrand Traore of Burkina Faso … Claims It is Targeted at Reducing Squad Strength

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Burkina Faso has written the Confederation of African Football (CAF) a formal letter of complaint after receiving five positive COVID-19 antigen tests on the day of their Africa Cup of Nations opener against hosts Cameroon.

Bertrand Traore of Burkina Faso Berates COVID-19 Testing of being a "Scandal" Before the AFCON 2021 Opener
Bertrand Traore of Burkina Faso Berates COVID-19 Testing of being a “Scandal” Before the AFCON 2021 Opener

Captain Bertrand Traore has described the scenario as a “scandal” and requested answers from CAF regarding the testing regime’s organization, while the Burkina Faso Football Federation (FBF) has accused the Confederation in a written letter of mishandling his team’s pre-match exams.

On Saturday, head coach Kamou Malo, five players (Edmond Tapsoba, Oula Abass Traore, Soumaila Ouattara, Saidou Simpore, and Aboubacar Dango), and three additional officials all obtained positive test results, and are expected to miss the team’s tournament opening in Yaounde on Sunday.

Teams must undergo PCR testing 48 hours before each match, administered by a medical staff designated by African football’s governing body, according to the tournament’s coronavirus protocol.

Burkinabe president Lazare Bansse said in a statement submitted by the FBF to the CAF on Saturday, that he feels there are problems “There are valid reasons to be skeptical of the results of tests that clearly target big players.

“We found serious anomalies in the sampling procedure and the late arrival time of technicians — around 10pm — after waking our players from sleep,” the statement read. “We also noticed an unlicensed crew arriving at our hotel, which we sent away.

“A second group showed up without any official identifying documents. Nevertheless, we accepted the collection of samples out of respect for CAF despite the obvious suspicions.”

CAF’s COVID-19 tests should be re-done in an independent laboratory in the presence of team doctors, according to the FBF president.

Burkina Faso was subjected to antigen testing on Friday evening, rather than the PCR tests that they should have got according to tournament regulations, according to Aston Villa winger Traore.

On Saturday, Traore told ESPN, “I believe this is a scandal.”

“We cannot be told on the eve of the match that we have COVID-19 cases among the players when some of them are our best players.

“This is completely unacceptable. Why didn’t they use PCR tests instead? They should have told us this beforehand. Officials and authorities need to reassess this system so that we can be guaranteed that players will not be told they can’t participate 24 hours in advance.”

Re-testing the players would be a short-term solution, according to Traore, who has asked CAF to explain the facts surrounding the Friday testing uncertainty.

“We are obliged to continue playing the competition despite the pandemic, and right now there is a protocol that has been set up by almost all organisations, be it CAF or the Premier League,” he added.

“I don’t agree with the protocol, but we’d like to know why two health teams came to our hotel to conduct testing, why the tests were changed, and why it wasn’t a PCR test anymore.

“We trained for 10 days for this first game, we had difficulties before, but it can’t be that 24 hours beforehand, on the eve of the match, that you tell some of our players that they cannot play.”

In Saturday’s news conference, assistant coach Firmin Sanou, who was filling in for the isolated head coach Malo, claimed the uncertainty surrounding the future of five of his players has caused a selection headache.

“It’s not easy to prepare your team for the first match not knowing if they are ready, not knowing on the eve of the match if you can use four or five players,” Sanou said.

“On the day of the match, you shouldn’t have to reorganize or reshuffle your strategy.”

Burkina Faso, who finished second in the 2013 Nations Cup and third in 2017, will play Cape Verde in their second group game in Yaounde before facing Ethiopia in Bafoussam on January 17.

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