Wednesday 13 December 2017

Liverpool may defy FIFA and play Matip at Plymouth despite ban

Liverpool's Joel Matip Picture: PA
Liverpool's Joel Matip Picture: PA

Ian Herbert

Liverpool are considering challenging Fifa and playing Joël Matip against Plymouth Argyle in tomorrow's FA Cup third-round replay.

Selecting Matip will force the governing body to adjudicate on whether the defender is eligible to play for Liverpool during the Africa Cup of Nations, where his country, Cameroon, are among those taking part.

Cameroon attempted to select Matip for the tournament but, as far as Liverpool are concerned, the player has not been available for his country since September 2015, when he announced his international retirement.

Liverpool have been infuriated by Fifa's refusal to offer guidance on the matter. Fifa responded yesterday, quoting its rules regarding players' availability, in which it is made clear if a player is selected by his association he cannot play for his club during that time and for a further five days beyond the period he was supposed to be released.

Read More: Liverpool could lose Matip for a month as Cameroon dispute continues

Indeed, last season Matip played for his Bundesliga club, Schalke, on November 21, 2015, four days after Cameroon's World Cup qualifier with Nigeria. There was no action taken against his club or any objection made to Fifa by Cameroon.


Liverpool would like to know what has changed, but have received no information. Although Matip was not named in the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool received no clarification as to whether that means he can play for his club.

Fifa said in a statement: "A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe, plus an additional period of five days."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has said that Jurgen Klopp's team is a better all-round unit than the Brendan Rodgers equivalent which came within two points of ending their title drought three years ago, because they are less dependent on individuals.

"Ask me as well is there any comparison to the team we had a few years ago with Luis Suarez?" Mignolet said. "We were challenging for the title but it was a totally different game and a totally different 11 people. Then, we were a bit reliant on the individual ability of Luis Suarez to make the difference and score goals.

"Now it is more about the whole team, the way we create chances and defend as a unit. We need everybody." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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