Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 foreign players are not allowed to travel to countries outside Europe during the March FIFA international break which means that countries in Africa would not be able to have the services of their players playing in France.
A statement from the Ligue de Football Professionnel announced that the clubs in France have agreed that foreign players are directed to remain in Europe no matter the players’ engagement with their national team outside Europe.
The order is to prevent Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 players from contracting the dreaded coronavirus when they are away with their countries national team. Hence the over 100 African players playing in the top 2 leagues in France would have to spend their FIFA break in Europe, thanks to the fear of the virus.
It is believed that countries in Africa might not have the capacity to protect their foreign-based players as much as their clubs in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have been doing since the coronavirus pandemic affected how the game is played and managed across the world.
Countries that have the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to play during the FIFA break and have players in France will have to look for alternatives. This means that coaches of national teams in Africa who have already released their squad list ahead of the break would have to replace players playing in France with players playing in other parts of the world.
The countries that will be affected the most would be mostly French-speaking countries like Senegal, Cameroon, Benin, and Ivory Coast. Other countries like Mali and Algeria might be heavily affected due to the number of their senior team players playing in France.
Aside from Cameroon that will host the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in January 2022, other teams in the qualifiers are expected to present their strongest teams to play the two rounds of fixtures scheduled between 24 and 30 March. Winners of the rounds will join Cameroon as one of the 24 teams that will feature in the forthcoming tournament.
“In the absence of an exemption for foreign international players made available to their national team, and given the response times imposed by international regulations, the clubs of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have decided to unanimously apply the Fifa circular of February 5, 2021, taking into account the many travel restrictions in the world,” a statement from the Ligue de Football Professionnel said.
“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 countries in South America will not be affected by the directive from France because the continent had earlier announced that the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the continent have been postponed.
Though it might make team selection difficult for African countries whose best players play in France, the directive to stop foreign players from traveling outside Europe might be a blessing to home-based players of the African countries affected.
Une consultation a été effectuée ce mercredi 17 mars auprès de l’ensemble des présidents de clubs concernant les joueurs hors équipe de France A susceptibles de participer à un match hors de la zone UE/EEE.— Ligue de Football Professionnel (@LFPfr) March 17, 2021
📝 Communiqué ➡️ https://t.co/KtgY8Vh0F2 pic.twitter.com/ZwxQzftxdM