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Africa Cup of Nations: Fifa 'snubbing' Egypt's Al Ahly after Club World Cup clash

Nine players from Egyptian team will be unable to play in the UAE due to clash of dates
African champions Al Ahly SC are urging footballing body Fifa to rethink scheduling to avoid having to field a weakened team at the Club World Cup in early 2022 (AFP)

Fans of African football and Egypt's Al Ahly Sporting Club have accused football's global governing body of discrimination after Fifa failed to ensure the Club World Cup does not coincide with the Africa Cup of Nations. 

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Under new dates, African players taking part in the Cup of Nations will miss three days of the Club World Cup and potentially the whole competition. 

The clash of dates will mean Egypt's Al Ahly will have nine players participating in the Cup of Nations, leaving them vulnerable when they compete in the UAE for the Club World Cup.

Al Ahly, the African champions after winning the African Champions League title, will be battling against the champions of other continents for the title of best club side in the world.

The Egyptian club's supporters said the rescheduled dates accommodated European team schedules at the expense of African players and teams.

The question of a double standard between European and African teams imposed by international bodies intensified when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) agreed to delay the release of African players playing for European teams until 3 January. 

Middle East Eye has asked Fifa for comment.

Earlier this year, Fifa was forced to reschedule the Club World Cup after its host, Japan, was gripped with a new wave of the coronavirus. 

The new schedule means the Club World Cup will take place between 3 and 12 February, which coincides with the African Cup of Nations, which takes place between 9 January and 6 February in Cameroon. 

In November, Al Ahly released a statement that it would send official letters to Fifa to resolve the clash of dates.

"Al Ahly SC have more than seven players at the Egyptian national team's squad in addition to three foreign players who will represent their national teams in the competition, which will impact our participation in the FIFA Club World Cup," Al Ahly said in its statement. 

Using the hashtag #Fifa_racism_against_Africans, hundreds of football fans also took to Twitter to condemn Fifa for not considering Al Ahly and African players taking part in the Cup of Nations. 

"Forcing Al-Ahly club to play the Fifa Club World Cup matches during the CAN [African Cup of Nations] is proof that raising the fair play slogan is just a big lie from @FIFAcom," said Egyptian football pundit Eslam Gamal el Deen. 

As one fan of Al Ahly, which was founded in 1907, put it on social media, the clash is a snub to "one of the oldest clubs and the king of the continent of Africa".