Joël Matip has missed facing Manchester United already, and he is certain to miss Plymouth on Wednesday. According to Jürgen Klopp, he could go on to miss seven to eight games by the time everything’s said and done should FIFA launch a full enquiry. And the Liverpool manager isn’t happy.
“There have not been a lot of times in my life I’ve been in a situation like this,” Klopp noted. “I have to try really hard not to blame anyone, but the supporters deserve to know about the process we’re in. At the moment, we’re sure we’ve done nothing wrong. Joël [Matip] did nothing wrong.
“He has not played for Cameroon since 2015. In this moment he is not in the squad, but we have no 100% guarantee he can play for us. The procedure, FIFA told us this Friday they will decide if they open a case or not. I don’t think they will. If they open a case, it would take between seven and ten days.”
Liverpool aren’t the only club currently facing an uncertain situation due to a player deciding they didn’t want to represent their country at AFCON, and Klopp listed Schalke, West Bromwich Albion, and Ajax as clubs that have been similarly impacted. Matip’s curious case is not a one-off.
That speaks to some poor oversight and organisation on FIFA’s part, given multiple players who appear not to have faced any coercion to stay at their clubs are now forced to miss potentially decisive games while football’s organisational body decides what to do next. Sloppy and unfortunate don’t even start to cover it.
“In our situation that would mean United not involved, Plymouth not involved, Swansea not involved,” Klopp added. “If the result is what we think it would be and everything is okay, then he wouldn’t play for seven-eight games without doing anything wrong. As a human being that’s hard for me.”
Matip signalled his intention to retire from international football in 2015 while at Schalke in order to avoid being called up to represent Cameroon, as he has had contentious dealings with their federation and considers the national team disorganised and badly run.
In theory, if he took all the proper steps in confirming his international retirement, it should have made him ineligible to represent Cameroon at the AFCON. Liverpool’s best hope now is confirmation by Friday that this is the case and that FIFA are not in fact opening a full investigation.