Frustrated Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has called on FIFA to make a swift decision about the eligibility of defender Joel Matip after he was forced to leave the player out of his squad for the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
The Cameroon centre-back retired from international football in September 2015 but national team coach Hugo Broos subsequently tried to call him up for the African Nations Cup.
Matip made his position clear to Broos and his club and in the lead up to the tournament Liverpool were relaxed about the situation despite Cameroon officials still making noises about him being selected.
However, although Cameroon finalised their squad for the competition over a week ago Liverpool were unable to gain clarity from FIFA about Matip’s clearance and eligibility.
“Our understanding is Joel 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.”
West Brom have faced a similar situation with Alan Nyom, who has not played in the Baggies’ last two matches because they have not had similar clarification from FIFA.
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.”
Liverpool consider the player eligible for selection and Press Association Sport understands they believe he has a stronger case than many of the other players who have refused the call for Cameroon given he has followed all the correct procedures associated with making himself unavailable for selection.
The club continue to push to get clarity from FIFA and the issue has been taken to the highest level with owners Fenway Sports Group now involved in the case.
However, as the world governing body has the power to ban players it feels have not correctly acceded to the request of their national association the Reds did not feel they could take a chance on playing the defender at Old Trafford.