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Togo Coach Claude Le Roy Slams French Clubs For Not Releasing Players

Togo national team head coach Claude Le Roy has criticized French clubs for refusing to release their players for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The French topflight league governing body, The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP),  confirmed on Wednesday the decision by clubs to restrict players from travelling for any international games outside of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Togo has been hit particularly hard by the decision as most of their professionals turn for French clubs, forcing Le Roy to turn to local players for upcoming Nations Cup qualifiers against Kenya and Comoros.

Le Roy said the decision to block African players from playing in the upcoming qualifiers is totally acceptable.

“It’s quite unfortunate. It is a total lack of respect for Africa, a continent which has contributed so much to French football. French clubs have interests to defend, which I understand but they should not be allowed to break FIFA rules,” said Le Roy in an interview with Maxifoot.

The two-week international break begins after the weekend’s domestic games when African national teams are set to kick off their Nations Cup qualifying campaigns, with most teams playing two matches.

“I have heard, however, that some clubs have agreed to let their African internationals go. But that is not good as they have done in at the last minute. Imagine the disappointment, the frustration, for these players, who, for some, were about to play decisive matches with a view to qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations,” Le Roy added.

FIFA said last month that clubs are not expected to release players if there is a “mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival” in the country where the club is located or the country where the match is taking place.

“Once again, FIFA is pathetic. Without this directive, we would not be here. It favors clubs, regardless of selections. Some of them are going to be without six, seven, eight or more than ten players, while they are going to play decisive matches! This is not serious. Where is sports fairness? FIFA President Gianni Infantino makes incomprehensible decisions. He says he wants to advance African football, but he is doing the opposite,” Le Roy noted.

Togo will be away to Comoros on March 25 before hosting Kenya four days later at the Stade de Keague in Lome.

Sparrow Hawks are out of the journey to Cameroon having started their campaign with a 1-0 home loss to Comoros before playing to a 1-1 draw with Kenya in their second Group G outing.

Togo fell 1-0 away to Egypt before falling 3-1 at home against the same opponent.

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