Following a decision by the Premier League not to release players for the forthcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers for red-list countries, Caf has requested the UK government to exempt Africans.
A number of stars including Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Hakim Ziyech and Yves Bissouma among others are some of the African stars expected to miss out on their nations’ openers in the road to Qatar 2022.
A statement by the Premier League said its clubs “reluctantly but unanimously” came to the decision not to release players, adding that “extensive talks” had taken place with the Football Association and government “to find a solution” but that “no exemption had been granted”.
The English Football League has also backed the Premier League’s stance and will not allow its players to travel to countries on the red list.
CAF has noted the current circumstances in place in Britain regarding the lack of sporting exemptions for players returning from several African countries after the international window next week.
CAF, acting on behalf of all African Member Associations, African players and fans, has urged the British Government to urgently provide the required exemptions to enable African players to compete for their countries in the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.
CAF notes that similar exemptions were granted by the British Government to enable the attendance of delegations and officials, amongst others, at the finals of the European Championship held less than two months ago.
It is further noted that the circumstances in the African countries on the red list in many cases are in fact less severe than other countries not currently on this list or for which exemptions were previously provided.
Furthermore, CAF would like to reiterate that the upcoming matches will be delivered under the strict protocols developed by FIFA and applied across the world, as was the case in previous windows and continental tournaments successfully delivered without any incidents.
These protocols have now proven beyond a doubt that they mitigate the risks involved, reflecting the success of commensurate protocols applied domestically in England and other parts of the world.
In light of the above, CAF has appealed as a matter of urgency, to the Football Association (FA) and the British Government that the same treatment previously applied to Europe now be extended to Africa under the principles of solidarity and equal treatment.