Africa Cup of Nations: Players can now stay with clubs until 3 January

4 months ago 3235
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Maxwel CornetSadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Edouard Mendy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Maxwel Cornet and more will be gone for several weeks

Footballers can now play for their clubs until 3 January before leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations, says the Confederation of African Football.

Fifa rules state that clubs have to release players by 27 December for the tournament, which starts on 9 January.

But a letter from Fifa to the World Leagues Forum said Caf had agreed players can turn out in official games for their clubs up to 3 January.

"This decision is taken in the spirit of goodwill and solidarity," said Fifa.

It means Liverpool will be able to call on Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, Senegal winger Sadio Mane and Guinea midfielder Naby Keita for their game on 2 January at Chelsea, who will have Senegal keeper Edouard Mendy available.

Algeria players Riyad Mahrez and Said Benrahma can play for Manchester City and West Ham respectively, while others will also benefit.

The Africa Cup of Nations runs until 6 February, with Leeds United, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Tottenham the only Premier League teams not losing anybody for the tournament.

In a letter from Fifa deputy general secretary Mattias Grafstrom to the World Leagues Forum and the European Leagues grouping, world football's governing body said the decision had been taken "with the affected clubs in recognition of the fact that they, like all members of the football community, have been adversely affected by the onset of the Covid pandemic".

He added: "It is also assumed that a spirit of mutual cooperation remains between Caf and all relevant stakeholders in this regard, including related to the release of players and the provision of sporting exemptions to travel and quarantine restrictions if required in the future."

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