After failing to receive confirmation of Joël Matip’s eligibility to play for Liverpool during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and the club deciding to hold him out against Manchester United as a result of such, FIFA have today confirmed that their disciplinary committee is investigating the German-born defender’s case.
Matip chose to represent Cameroon as a 19-year-old, but conflict with the federation over its organization and management of the national team led Matip to inform them he no longer wished to be involved in international football in 2016 while at Schalke. There is some uncertainty as to whether the player officially retired.
It is this uncertainty, combined with Cameroon’s recent insistence that they wanted Matip to play at the AFCON—though they didn’t, in the end, formally name him to the squad—that has left Matip and Liverpool uncertain of where they stand and led FIFA to open an investigation into the case.
If Matip formally retired and informed Cameroon of such to FIFA’s standards, he should be eligible to play and the case should be concluded in short order. If his decision to retire from international football failed to meet FIFA standards, Matip could end up ineligible for the duration of the AFCON.
Of course, depending on how long it takes FIFA’s disciplinary committee to rule, Matip could end up having to sit out for the duration of the tournament regardless of what the final ruling ends up being.