Olympiakos accuse FIFA of failing to ensure player safety on national team duty

Olympiakos accuse FIFA of failing to ensure player safety on national team duty

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek club Olympiakos Piraeus have accused FIFA of paying little attention to concerns about player welfare after two more of their team contracted COVID-19 while on international duty in Africa.

In a letter to world soccer’s governing body seen by Reuters, Olympiakos also said that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and its member associations were not able to efficiently protect their players’ health during the October and November international windows.

The club, who play Manchester City at home in the Champions League next week, said that football stakeholders had asked FIFA to ensure that safety protocols would be applied in the recent international breaks.

“Sadly, FIFA paid little attention to those concerns,” Olympiakos said in the letter.

The club are angry that their striker Youssef El Arabi, the top scorer in the early stages of the Greek league season, is still in quarantine in Cameroon after testing positive for the novel coronavirus having travelled with Morocco for an African Cup of Nations qualifier.

The club said their Egypt international Ahmed Kouka had also tested positive after returning from a qualifier in Togo, which was confirmed by the Egypt Football Association.

“Their recovery and their time of absence, as well as their return to Greece, is for the time being unknown without considering in what state they are going to return and if they will face further health consequences of any kind due to their illness,” the club said.

Reuters has contacted FIFA for comment.

The letter accused certain African countries of not protecting their players’ health while they were on national team duty.

“We are obliged to express our deepest disappointment for a policy that leaves clubs totally unprotected when they invest millions in trying to keep alive especially at a time when revenues are collapsing,” added the letter to FIFA signed by the club’s general manager Lina Souloukou.

CAF said in a statement on Thursday that the plan it had put in place was based on rigorous health screening and intense safety and security measures and had achieved the desired results.

“A significant collaborative effort across the continent, as well as numerous online training courses have helped to prepare the ground for a safe resumption of our elite competitions in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” CAF said.

Last month, Olympiakos’ Mali international Mady Camara tested positive for COVID-19 when playing a friendly for his country in Turkey.