The ongoing stand-off between Liverpool defender Joel Matip and Cameroon over the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations continues to brew with news that Indomitable Lions boss Hugo Broos will continue to pursue sanctions against the 25-year old if he refuses to link up with the squad for the tournament — a request that he’s made clear he has no intention of complying with.
“We actually had this talk a few weeks ago already, so I was not surprised [by the news],” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp last month. “Of course, I am happy about this, there is no doubt, but the players make these decisions by themselves – there is nothing the club can do,” added the German, referring to the fact that Matip had decided long ago not to represent Cameroon at AFCON. “For Joel it is different because he has grown up in Germany and all that stuff, so that’s different – that’s always different and there are a few players like this – and so he decided this for himself and that is good for us.”
It’s been more than a year since Matip stepped out for the national team and he has continually abstained from representing his country after a dispute with technical staff lead to his decision to focus solely on club football. Liverpool, for their part, have been under the understanding that he’d retired from the international scene before he completed his move from German side Schalke 04 during the summer, but apparently this isn’t the case. Last month Broos said that talks were ongoing with Matip over a return to the Indomitable Lions and though there has been no indication that he wishes to participate — he’s said as early as September that he won’t change his mind — the Belgian manager went and named him as well as a number of other players who are also refusing to play in the squad anyways.
“Clubs have to release them and players have to go,” said football lawyer David Seligman, speaking to BBC World Service. “The only reason they don’t have to go is if they are injured. Fifa could sanction both the club and the player. The player could be banned from playing domestic games for the duration of the tournament and the club could be fined,” he explained, before adding that the Football Association could also end up getting involved. “The FA would be expected to intervene and they could also face sanction if the player doesn’t go.”