Senegal, Nigeria Says Watford Blocking Release Of Players For AFCON

Ismaila Sarr

Senegal has threatened to call in FIFA to intervene after Watford allegedly blocked their attempts to pick winger Ismaila Sarr for AFCON.

This comes just after a similar AFCON row over striker Emmanuel Dennis which ended with him being ‘excused’ from Nigeria’s squad.

Senegal accused Watford of refusing to release the winger for the tournament even though Sarr has actually been out of action since November due to a knee injury and is not expected back in training until late January.

The Senegal Football Federation said Watford informed them on December 31 that he would not be allowed to travel.

Senegal included the 23-year-old in their squad for the tournament in Cameroon which ends on February 6.

The federation’s general secretary Victor Seh Cisse said: ‘The English club Watford notified on the basis of spurious arguments its decision to block the player Ismaila Sarr, who has expressed his desire to join the Senegalese selection for the Cup of Nations. The FSF responded immediately to confirm the player’s call-up and the club’s obligation to release the player by no later than January 3.’

Senegal added they are willing to turn to FIFA if ‘Watford persists in its deliberate refusal to release the player.’

In a statement in response, Watford said: ‘Ismaïla Sarr suffered a knee ligament injury on November 20 in the match against Manchester United and has not been fit to play for Watford since that date.

‘In early December, the club wrote to the Senegal Football Federation outlining the clinical diagnosis of Ismaïla’s injury and immediately followed that up by supplying the MRI scans detailing the extent of the injury.

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‘After further consultation with medical experts, we informed the Federation of Ismaila’s rehabilitation process and likely time frame of recovery.

‘Within the past 10 days, the club has reiterated to the Senegal Football Federation the player’s current medical status and recovery schedule.

‘The Hornets have also invited the Senegal Football Federation to instruct their own independent surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and rehabilitation period.’


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