The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Confederation of African Football (Caf) has appealed to the British government to provide exemptions for the continent’s footballers meant to represent their respective countries in next month’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
On Tuesday, English Premier League clubs resolved to bar players from travelling to countries classified as red listed in terms of UK’s Covid-19 travel guidelines. Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the African countries on UK’s red list.
If players travel to any of these countries during the international window without any exemption, they have to go into quarantine for 10 days, which would see them miss a number of matches for their UK clubs since they cannot train during that period of isolation.
Zimbabwe have named six UK based players, Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Admiral Muskwe (Luton Town), Macauley Bonne (Ipswich Town) and David Moyo (Hamilton Academical) for the fixtures against South Africa at home as well as Ethiopia away.
Egypt could also be without their star player, Mohamed Salah who plays for Liverpool and Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny when they face Angola and Gabon early next month.
“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,’’ reads part of Caf’s statement.
The continental governing body noted that the British government granted exemption for the recently held European Championship.
“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,’’ further stated Caf.
In motivating for players to be granted exemptions, Caf reiterated 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, Caf said, 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,’’ concluded the Caf statement.
It remains to be seen if the British government provides any exemptions for the African players, which would pave away for them to take part in next month’s World Cup qualifiers.