Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has voiced his frustration over the current unavailability of Joel Matip, the Cameroon international who has retired from international football, but currently unable to represent
The defender was withdrawn from the team to play Manchester United on Sunday amid uncertainty about whether he was eligible to play due to the dispute between Matip and Cameroon. The player was selected for the current African Cup of Nations, but he has not played for Cameroon since September 2015 and claims to have retired from international football. Under FIFA rules, the Cameroon Football Association still had a right to call up the player but, given he has not played for the national team since September 2015, the affair caught Liverpool by surprise.
Klopp admitted he was struggling to understand why the matter had dragged on for so long.
“There are not a lot of times in my life when I have been in a situation like this, not even a similar situation,” said the Liverpool manager. “It is pretty difficult.”
The club had assumed Cameroon had accepted Matip’s decision to retire, which was taken before he joined them from Schalke last summer.
However, having been called up, Matip faces the prospect of being suspended from club football until the tournament concludes on February 6.
“It is not about blaming anybody but it is not too easy to get in contact with the decisive people – the president of the Cameroon FA and Mr (Gianni) Infantino from FIFA,” said Klopp.
“What we need is a letter, even when it is clear he is retired, from the official side saying the player is released and can play for Liverpool.”
Klopp could include Matip in his team for tonight’s FA Cup tie against Plymouth, but to do so would risk sanction from Fifa.
“In this moment we have not a 100 per cent guarantee he could play for us,” he said. “I think I could line him up and I don’t think the referee would say, ‘Stop,’ but I will do it when it is okay from our point of view”
Asked what could make that happen, Klopp said: “New informations, if there are any.”
The German coach said he has been told that Fifa will reach a decision about Matip’s status by Friday.
“They have told us it would then be between seven-10 days if we get a decision,” he said.
“From January 2, it could be up to eight games, had he been fit. If the result is what we think it will be, he would have missed eight games for doing nothing wrong.
“I accept rules in life but they should base it on human sense. In this case, we cannot do more. It is really hard.
“We are sure we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong. He did not play for Cameroon since 2015.”
Klopp confirmed that the 25-year-old German-born defender was unhappy with current situation.
“He isn’t happy. I told him before the United game that I can’t pick him.
“We are not the only club. Schalke have a similar problem and so do West Brom, maybe Ajax too.
“It is really difficult to get in contact with the people. It is important and we have to wait for a fit player who wasn’t playing for Cameroon for 15-16 months. It is difficult to accept.”