Ismailia Sarr and Claudio Ranieri of Watford.Watford.

Senegal slam ‘disrespectful’ Watford for stalling Sarr’s Afcon participation

Watford have been accused by the Senegalese Football Federation for failing to release Ismaila Sarr for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Lions of Teranga are eyeing their first African title in Cameroon, and the striker has been named in Aliou Cisse’s squad to make this a reality.

According to the Senegal football ruling body, the Premier League outfit had written to them on December 31, 2021, that they would not be releasing the 23-year-old for the biennial African football showpiece.

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"The English club Watford notified on the basis of spurious arguments its decision to block the player Ismaila Sarr, who has expressed his desire to join the Senegalese selection for the Cup of Nations," read a statement signed by the Senegal Football Federation general secretary Victor Seh Cisse.

"The FSF responded immediately to confirm the player's call-up and the club's obligation to release the player by no later than Jan. 3.”

Furthermore, the West Africans threatened to take the matter up to Fifa should “Watford persist in its deliberate refusal to release the player.”

"The FSF wishes to express its deep condemnation of the disrespectful, pernicious and discriminatory behaviour of Watford who seek by all means to prevent a player from playing with his national team,” it continued.

"Africa, its football and its footballers deserve the same respect as that accorded to other continents, confederations and players.

"The FSF will take all the necessary action to ensure that the basic right of its footballers to play for their country is respected.”

In their response, the Hertfordshire based outfit claimed Sarr ruptured a knee ligament during a league outing against Manchester United on November 20. And as such, would not be fit to participate in the competition.

"Ismaila Sarr suffered a knee ligament injury on Nov. 20 in the match against Manchester United and has not been fit to play for Watford since that date,” Watford noted.

"In early December, the club wrote to the Senegal Football Federation outlining the clinical diagnosis of Ismaila's injury and immediately followed that up by supplying the MRI scans detailing the extent of the injury.

“After further consultation with medical experts, we informed the Federation of Ismaïla's rehabilitation process and likely timeframe of recovery.

"Within the past 10 days, the club has reiterated to the Senegal Football Federation the player's current medical status and recovery schedule.

"The Hornets have also invited the Senegal Football Federation to instruct their own independent surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and rehabilitation period."

The relegation-threatened team had stopped Nigeria’s Emmanuel Dennis from taking part in Cameroon 2021 – a decision the Nigeria Football Federation never contested.

Regardless, Claudio Ranieri’s men would be missing the services of William Troost Ekong (Nigeria) as well as Morocco’s duo of Imran Louza and Adam Masina for Afcon.