CAN: A gigantic tournament – By: . .

By Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani

I did not originally title this AFCON article the gigantic tournament. But I have done so now mainly to respond to the alleged contempt, misinformation or rather outright disrespect towards the most prestigious football tournament in Africa, which Jurgen Klopp, coach of the English team, Liverpool FC, comments on the Africa Cup of Nations. seems to convey, because less relevant.

I have huge respect for Klopp, one of the best tacticians in football. I certainly can’t say that he meant disrespect to the CAN, however, that doesn’t stop me from tackling what is gradually gaining credibility in Europe, blatantly or subtly: the disregard for the CAN.

The biggest event in African football kicked off on January 9 in Cameroon. The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, known as the Total Africa Cup of Nations 2021, is the 33rd edition of the tournament.

This edition has been moved to January/February instead of June/July.

This edition of the CAN has come with many challenges even before it started. Strong opposition came from many angles centering on his timing. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has returned to the traditional AFCON calendar, unlike the summer calendar used in major international competitions like the World Cup and the European football competition, although the former takes place in November from this year, unlike the previous one. editions.

Most of the opposition to the AFCON schedule has understandably come from European clubs, who have a lot to lose by bringing some of their key players into the tournament. This has caused many clubs to devise ways to keep their players against the players’ wishes or in conjunction with the players. Some of the clubs have gone out of their way to engage in unethical practices to prevent their players from playing for their country. We have heard ex-Super Eagles player John Ogu make startling revelations about his manager asking him to fake injuries in order to stop him playing for the Nigerian national team. “Not even surprised at the situation of foreign managers or clubs who don’t want their players to go and represent their country in tournaments,” Ogu tweeted.

“A certain manager in Portugal asked [that] I then told the Eagles coach that I was injured not to go to a friendly match. After I left and came back, he stopped playing with me, and that was before the upcoming World Cup that year. I mentioned it here and many here said I was lying and so on. Don’t you see how they are doing now?

You could see how far some of these clubs could go. It is absurd, gratuitous, unacceptable and a blatant disregard for African football and Africa in general.

The European Club Association (ECA) has written to FIFA, explaining why clubs might not release players for AFCON: health, player welfare and timing of the party. The ECA further accused African affiliated football associations of failing to “properly implement the protocols with worrying degrees of negligence”.

The ECA said clubs would only release African players for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations when national football associations in Africa meet certain strict conditions.

During its meeting on December 2, 2021, the ECA, in an official letter to the Deputy Secretary General of FIFA, Matthias Grafstrom and the African Football Confederation (CAF), made known its position, in particular with the unleashed variant Omicron of COVID-19. . The ECA has mandated FIFA and CAF to ensure that the necessary precautions are in place to protect players and club interests ahead of the tournament.

I have to admit that there are vital issues to address in the CAN calendar and the ECA has the right to protect the interests of its members. The same goes for CAF and its member associations. CAF will be unfair to its affiliated associations if it remains adamant about the current schedule just to prove a point that it has sufficient grounds. However, all this does not give ECA justification to insult African football. Going forward, there should be clearly defined ways, concessions and important decisions need to be made by all stakeholders for a mutually beneficial solution.

I certainly know that if it were the other way around, the reaction from the European press, clubs and fans would have been deafening. A series of sanctions would have been in place on these FIFA clubs.

CAF, FIFA and all stakeholders should address this issue thoroughly with a view to finding a lasting solution that takes into account players, fans and everyone. Above all, a workable remedy that preserves the dignity of Africans and aids in the development of the beautiful game must be rigorously pursued.

Sansani wrote of Jalingo

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