BY Tawanda Tafirenyika/Fortune Mbele
Zifa have resigned to missing out on key players based in Europe ahead of the Warriors’ Fifa World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia next week.
Clubs in Europe are refusing to release players who would have to quarantine for 10 days upon return and thus miss their teams’ assignments.
English giant Liverpool set the tone by refusing to release Mohammed Salah to Egypt as well as the Brazilian trio of Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Allyson Becker.
Aston Villa are likely to block Marvelous Nakamba from travelling to Zimbabwe where he would then miss two league matches on return.
Jordan Zemura at Bournemouth, Tendai Darikwa and Brendon Galloway could also be affected.
Zifa have delayed naming the squad for the qualifiers because of the uncertainty in the release of foreign-based players.
Yesterday vice-president Philemon Machana said there wasn’t much they could do, but to try and persuade the clubs to release the players.
“True, we are in a dilemma. We have to think like leaders and not being self-centred. We want all our players to come and play for their country, but at the same time we need to consider the careers of these players. So the best for us is to continue to engage with the club and the player so that we have a win-win situation,” he said.
“Egypt might, for example decide to force Salah to come for the match and have the capacity to pay him a week’s salary, but do we have the capacity to pay Nakamba for instance? So the best is to keep engaging, we believe in engagement. We must think like leaders and safeguard the careers of the players. This is why the coach has delayed naming the squad.”
Meanwhile, the World Leagues Forum (WLF) with representation of 40 professional football leagues has said clubs would not release players, blaming Fifa for the chaos.
Top leagues like the English Premier League (EPL) and the French Ligue 1 where Warriors top players Nakamba (Aston Villa) and the duo of Tino Kadewere (Olympique Lyonnais) and Marshal Munetsi (Stade de Reims) play, affiliate to the WLF.
Manchester City have already indicated they will not be releasing their players for national duties because of strict COVID-19 quarantine regulations and most clubs are likely to follow suit.
The WLF recently issued a statement after the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) international fixtures supposed to have been played in March were suspended as clubs refused to release players because of the strict COVID-19 regulations.
“The World Leagues Forum, which represents 40 professional football leagues around the world has been informed that Fifa unilaterally amended the international match calendar to reschedule South American’s Fifa World Cup qualifiers due to be played in March 2021. Fifa has decided to extend the September and October 2021 international periods by two days to allow Conmebol to schedule three matches instead of two,” the statement on WLF’s website read.
WLF added: “In parallel, Fifa has also unilaterally decided not to extend the exception on the obligation to release players when there is a quarantine obligation on their return to their clubs. Now, if South American players join with their national team in September and October (which by Fifa regulations they are obliged to) they will miss games with their clubs, either because of the calendar amendments or because of a potential quarantine. And if they don’t want to miss games with their clubs, they cannot go play with their national team.”
The international leagues organisation is of the view that the present scenario impacts negatively on professional leagues and their stakeholders and urged Fifa to come up with a win-win situation for clubs, players and national football associations.
“These decisions of Fifa will negatively impact national professional leagues, clubs, players and fans. Leagues and their clubs must meet with onerous contractual requirements, also ensuring health and safety, and careful planning of fixtures. Permitting unilateral changes to an established international match calendar disrespects these arrangements. As a governing body, Fifa should be trying to find the best solution for the entire football community. Instead, Fifa has decided to impose the worst possible option with practically no notice. This poses an obvious governance issue which will have to be addressed,” the WLF said.
The organisation emphasises that no clubs is obliged to release their players under the upcoming international windows.
“As for the upcoming international windows, clubs cannot be obliged to release their players in such circumstances. As a consequence, professional football leagues will fully support clubs refusing to release their players and players refusing to go in case there is a quarantine with the country concerned and more generally if they do not want to miss national competitions.”
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