Joel Matip is ineligible to play for Liverpool due to a mixup between the club, FIFA and Cameroon.
Although Joel Matip retired from international football in 2015 and made it clear that he would not be returning at any point in the future, Cameroon have been persistently nagging the Liverpool defender in the last year to rejoin the national team for the Africa Cup of Nations.
His decision to snub Hugo Broos, Cameroon’s manager, clearly hasn’t gone down well, and retrospective action has been taken against Matip and a number of other Cameroonian players.
Yesterday afternoon, Liverpool released a statement just an hour before kickoff against Manchester United, revealing that Joel Matip would not be eligible to play.
The statement read as follows: “Liverpool Football Club can confirm Joel Matip has been withdrawn from selection for today’s Premier League fixture at Manchester United as the club continues to seek clarity from FIFA as to the player’s eligibility.
“The Cameroon Football Federation have failed to confirm that Matip can, therefore, play club football during the period of the Africa Cup of Nations. Liverpool have subsequently repeatedly sought, as a matter of urgency, clarity from FIFA in this regard. This includes assurances the player was called up for the tournament in accordance with the world governing body’s regulations.”
As you probably already know, Liverpool’s social media platforms were in total disarray.
Liverpool managed without Matip in that there were no glaring holes in their defence but perhaps you could argue the hosts would not have equalised had Matip been in the side. Alas, it doesn’t do well to dwell on things that cannot be changed.
That seems to be the viewpoint Jürgen Klopp has taken and he means to change the current situation regarding Matip. Speaking before the game, Klopp answered questions about Matip and Cameroon.
“Our understanding is Joël is retired from international football and we, the club, did everything we had to do to make this clear but until now we could not get the response we need to be 100 per cent sure that he can play,” said Klopp.
“It’s pretty difficult and pretty frustrating, to be honest. He’s been in training for five days and would have been in the squad, 100 per cent, maybe on the pitch today, so I don’t think it’s fair.
“But we cannot do more and are still waiting on the decision. We could not take the risk.
“But we need to get an answer as quickly as possible because on Wednesday we have the next game [an FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth] and then another game and another game. We cannot wait forever.
“It is public now, we have this problem and we are not the only team with this problem.”
Klopp added, “I think Tony Pulis said a few things about it so I don’t think that it is fair for the fans, for the clubs, for the team-mates and for everything.
“Now we have to wait in this moment and think about the game – and then after the game we will try again to get answers.”
Despite just getting the defender back from injury, it seems as though Matip will be out for a while with Cameroon unlikely to make this easy for Liverpool or other clubs like West Brom whose Allan Nyom also didn’t play at the AFCON.