Joel Matip cleared to play for Liverpool after Cameroon, FIFA hold-up
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have Joel Matip available for selection this weekend, after he was cleared by FIFA following a ton of confusion regarding the center back's situation.
It all stemmed from a conflict regarding the 25-year-old Matip and his status with the Cameroon national team. Matip reportedly refused to play for Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations after being listed on the Indomitable Lions' preliminary roster despite not wanting to play for his country. He hasn't played for Cameroon since 2015 and was not listed on the final, 23-man roster, but FIFA rules stipulate that a player could be blocked from playing for his club if he refuses to play for his country. If FIFA ruled that he was not eligible to play until the Cup of Nations is over, Matip would have missed up to eight Liverpool games across all competitions.
The official wording from FIFA about this rule reads as follows:
"A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe, plus an additional period of five days.”
Matip was forced to miss Sunday's 1-1 draw vs. Manchester United and a third-round FA Cup replay vs. Plymouth while Liverpool waited for FIFA's ruling, despite never appearing to have the intention of representing his country.
Klopp attempted to clarify Matip's situation at his Tuesday press conference.
"“There were not a lot of times in my life I was in a situation like this, actually, not even in a similar situation,” Klopp said. “I don’t want to blame anybody–that’s important–but I think our supporters, for sure, need to or deserve to know about the process we are in.
“In this moment, we are sure–not we only think, we are sure–we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong. He didn’t play for Cameroon since 2015, [which] means since he [has been] here, he was not a Cameroon national player. He’s not in the squad of Cameroon in this moment, so he could not play for Cameroon, for sure, because he’s not in the squad.
“But in this moment, we have no 100% guarantee that he could play for us. That’s the situation."
Klopp and Liverpool finally got the ruling they were waiting for, just in time for Saturday's match against Swansea City.