The Africa Cup of Nations is expected to take place between January and February 2022 after being postponed this year due to the pandemic. However, the Covid-19 is still present in our lives and the tournament is suffering its impact again.
The European Club Association (ECA) has threatened with not releasing their players to the continental competition over concerns for the rising cases of the new Covid variant Omicron.
Over 40 African players who perform in the Old Continent would be affected by that stance, including Liverpool superstars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. With the tournament drawing nearer, it's a situation that needs to be resolved fast.
European Club Association concerned ahead of Africa Cup of Nations
The ECA sent a letter to FIFA's Deputy Secretary Mattias Grafstrom showing their concern for the health protocols that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) would implement during the contest, emphasizing on three aspects clubs consider significant in order to release their players.
"First and foremost, the clubs' duty to ensure each and every player's wellbeing is properly protected; second, that clubs are not forced to be without players for club competition matches; third, that all players resume their activities with their clubs following national duty in a timely fashion, as per the applicable rules," the ECA statement read.
This has raised speculation around a possible postponement of the competition, something that people inside the CAF have immediately denied. ESPN got in touch with CAF's head of media relations, Luxolo September, who said: "Our position is very clear. AFCON will be in Cameroon in January 2022. The opening match will be played on Jan. 9. [There have been] no discussions [about postponement], and there are zero contingency plans."
The Africa Cup of Nations, which was originally expected to take place between June and July 2021, will be played from January 9 to February 6, 2022, in Cameroon. The last edition, held in Egypt in 2019, saw Algeria emerge as champions.