Moving African Nations Cup to January could cause problems for players, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Moving African Nations Cup to January could cause problems for players

Players' representatives are worried that moving next year's African Nations Cup to January will create difficulties for the continent's footballers, but added that there is no easy solution as to how to fit the competition into the calendar.

Host nation Cameroon announced last week that the 24-team competition would take place in January and February, because the previous June/July slot coincided with the rainy season.

However, this means European clubs will have to release players in the middle of the season - which was described as a catastrophe by Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, the secretary-general of world players' union FIFPro, said that neither period was ideal as June/July would have been sandwiched between the revamped Club World Cup and the start of the European season.

"With the Club World Cup being pressed into the calendar, we thought it would be unacceptable for the players to be playing all of those competitions in succession," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an International Labour Organization conference.

"But (January/February) has also proved over the last few years to be very difficult, because you are asking players to step away from their club environment for weeks."

Former Cameroon international Geremi Njitap, who won over 100 caps and is now the head of his country's players' union, said some players might quit their national sides rather than miss club games.

"It will put the players in a tough position... some players will resign from their national teams," the former Real Madrid and Chelsea player told Reuters.

"And if a lot of teams lose their players, it will devalue the competition."

He said it might also make it more difficult for African players to earn moves to European clubs, adding that a four-yearly tournament would be the best solution. - REUTERS