Watford refusing to let Ismaila Sarr go to Cup of Nations, says Senegal

Senegal says it will be seeking FIFA’s intervention to force Watford to release Ismaila Sarr for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Ismaila Sarr plays for Watford in the English Premier League.   -  Getty Images

Senegal is accusing Watford of refusing to release Ismaila Sarr for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations finals and will be seeking FIFA’s intervention, the country’s football federation said on Sunday.

The federation said Watford had told it on Friday it would not be releasing the highly-rated midfielder for the tournament in Cameroon, which kicks off on Sunday and where Senegal is one of the favourites.

“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,” said a statement signed by the Senegal Football Federation general secretary Victor Seh Cisse.

“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,” it continued.

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It added Senegal would take the matter up with FIFA if “Watford persists in its deliberate refusal to release the player.”

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“The FSF wishes to express its deep condemnation of the disrespectful, pernicious and discriminatory behaviour of Watford who seek by all means to prevent a player from playing with his national team.

Africa, its football and its footballers deserve the same respect as that accorded to other continents, confederations and players. The FSF will take all the necessary action to ensure that the basic right of its footballers to play for their country is respected,” it added.

Watford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Premier League struggler has already refused to allow Nigeria striker Emmanuel Dennis to join up with his country, saying the Nigerian Football Federation did not call him up in time, missing the deadline to inform the club of his selection.

Nigeria did not contest the claim and has since replaced Dennis in its squad.

Watford, which lost in stoppage time to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and slipped closer to the relegation zone, will lose three other players to the tournament – William Troost Ekong of Nigeria and the Moroccan pair of Imran Louza and Adam Masina.

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