A clearly-exasperated Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not hide his growing frustration at FIFA as the row over Joel Matip’s availability overshadowed his latest press conference.
Two days after being forced to pull the defender out of a game at Manchester United, Klopp was no nearer to getting the answers he wanted as he met media ostensibly to preview Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay at Plymouth.
Klopp requested the matter, a dispute between Matip and Cameroon, be “put on the end” of the press conference in order to first “talk about football” but the subject went on to dominate proceedings.
“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 Klopp. “It is pretty difficult.”
Matip was named in Cameroon’s squad for the the African Nations Cup despite it being widely understood that he had retired from international football.
The Cameroon Football Association still had a right to call up the player under FIFA rules but, given he has not played for the national team since September 2015, the matter has taken Liverpool by surprise.
The club had assumed Cameroon had accepted Matip’s decision to retire, taken before he joined them from Schalke last summer. However, with Matip having now technically not reported for duty, he could be suspended from club football for the duration of the tournament.
Liverpool have called for greater clarity from world governing body FIFA and Cameroon but so far have received no response.
Klopp said: “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.
“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 on Matip availability
Klopp could field Matip, recently recovered from a knee injury, at Plymouth but it would risk sanction from FIFA.
He said: “In this moment we have not a 100 per cent guarantee he could play for us. 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.”
Klopp said he has been told FIFA will decide by Friday whether an investigation into Matip’s non-compliance with a call-up is necessary. He resents any suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the club or player.
He said: “We are sure we did nothing wrong. We are sure Joel Matip did nothing wrong.”