File Photo: Egyptian Football Association president Ahmed Megahed. Ahram
Interim president of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) Ahmed Megahed said late on Monday that the association has contacted FIFA to get an exception to allow Liverpool’s star winger Mohamed Salah to participate in the World Cup qualifiers.
Earlier on Monday, the EFA announced that English Premier League side Liverpool would not allow Salah to join the national team in their bid to qualify for the World Cup due to the United Kingdom’s recently imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We contacted FIFA officials on Monday, and they told us that they are working on getting an exception for the players who suffer from this problem after starting discussions with the governments that have imposed these travel restrictions,” Megahed told ON Time Sports TV channel.
The Pharaohs will hold a closed training camp on 28 August in preparation for the games against Angola and Gabon in the 2022 African World Cup qualifiers.
“FIFA is trying to find a solution, because if this problem continues, many players will not be able to join their national teams in the coming period. I was in contact with the president of the Brazilian Football Federation, and he said that his country will be facing a problem in calling 19 foreign-based players for the same reason,” the EFA president added.
Earlier last week, Egypt’s coach Hossam El-Badry called upon five foreign-based players for the preparatory camp, including Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
Egypt is facing the same problem with Elneny, and according to Megahed, Arsenal informed the EFA on Monday that they will send their reply regarding releasing the player by the end of the week.
“The problem is not related to whether Salah or his club want to agree to the request, but it is mainly connected to the FIFA’s regulations regarding releasing players for national duties amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Megahed explained.
“Salah has the desire to play with Egypt, and we hope that the problem will end for the sake of our national team within a few days,” he concluded.
The United Kingdom has imposed restrictions over travelers to mitigate the spread of the virus, with players leaving the country being required to self-quarantine for 10 days upon their return before resuming their day-to-day life.
Egypt is on Britain's red list, so Salah would be required to quarantine upon his return from Cairo and miss two Premier League games.
This is not the first time Liverpool has refused a request like this from the EFA, as they refused to allow Salah to join the Egyptian Olympic team’s squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games last month on the grounds that it was not a FIFA associated tournament, which does not oblige them to release their players.
The FIFA updated its regulations in February 2021 as a result of the pandemic, giving teams the liberty to refuse to release their players for national team duties if there is a mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival at their location or their return to the country where their club is located.
The regulations also confirmed that teams are not obliged to release players for any reason if there are travel restrictions to or from either location and specific exemptions from the relevant authorities that imposed these bars have not been granted to the players.
Egypt’s national team will be facing Angola on 1 September, four days prior to playing against Gabon in Group F of the World Cup qualifiers.
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