Afcon qualifiers: Senegal FA writes French counterpart over decision to restrict 12 invited players

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The Senegalese Football Federation have written a letter to the French Football Federation (FFF) to object to their decision to block players from participating in the final round of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs unanimously decided to keep their players from travelling out of Europe during the international break due to coronavirus fears and the mandatory quarantine rules upon arrival.

The development came as a blow for Senegal coach Aliou Cisse whose 26-man squad for their games against Congo on March 26 and Eswatini on March 30, features 12 France-based stars.

The players include PSG’s Abdou Diallo who earned his maiden call-up after dumping France for the West African country, Reims striker Boulaye Dia, Monaco duo Fode Ballo-Toure and Krepin Diatta, Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis amongst others.

Although they have secured qualification for the continental tournament in Cameroon next year, the FSF in a letter signed by its General Secretary Victor Ciss protested against the late response of the French clubs to players’ invitations.

"The latter not having reacted within the period of six days foreseen cannot wait less than 5 days before the start of the international window '' from March 22 to 31" to evoke a press release in order to justify a refusal to release so targeted foreign players summoned by matches outside the EU / EEA zone '' (European Union and European Economic Area), '' part of the letter read.

"In addition to the damage that this may cause, relative to the non-participation of the 12 players summoned by the Lions coach, it seems to me to highlight the totally discriminatory nature of this measure with regard to the statutory provisions and FIFA regulations and European legislation on equality and contractual freedom for players.”

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In conclusion, the Senegalese FA pleaded with the French FA to work with the clubs and make their players available for next week’s matches.

“In this case, underlines the Senegalese party, it is by no means established that the clubs concerned have met the French authorities in order to allow the players to benefit from this exemption,” it continued.

"Taking all these considerations into account, we would be grateful if you, in view of the very short deadlines and the damage incurred, kindly take the appropriate measures for the release, by the French professional clubs, players regularly summoned by the Senegalese Football Federation.”