Olympiacos sent a letter to FIFA. The letter reads as follows:
– Mr. Mattias Grafstrom
Deputy Secretary General
– Ms. Ornella Desirée Bellia
Head of Professional Football
Ref. No. 4230
Cc. European Club Association (ECA)
– Mr. Charlie Marshall
Chief Executive Officer
Release of Players for CAF African Cup of Nations Qualifiers
Within the past months and in light of the extraordinary conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the previous experience of 2019/2020 football season, serious concern has been raised by ECA and all football stakeholders in connection with the release of Players for association matches for the October and November international windows.
In light of those international windows as of September 2020, ECA, WLF and FIFPRO have jointly developed a set of principles focused on safeguarding players’ health and safety during the COVID-
19 pandemic, as the basic consideration in this unique time for all organizations is that health and safety of players (and other concerned staff) takes absolute priority and that players and clubs should not be pressured by regulations or other forces to take decisions that jeopardize the health of players or compromise their actual or perceived safety.
Taking into consideration the escalation of the pandemic, the high infection risk due to the player’s extensive travelling and their close contact with staff personnel, players and people from many countries, as well as the fact that health protocols implemented by many – and mostly non- European – Associations, were insufficient or even non – existent, football stakeholders have called upon FIFA to extend the temporary amendments made in September 2020 to cover the October and November windows and to proceed in a series of actions to ensure that all international matches taking place in those windows are required to apply FIFA’s Return to Football International Match Protocol or an equivalent protocol of the relevant confederation approved by FIFA.
Sadly, FIFA paid little attention to those concerns.
Unfortunately, our October and November international break experience has shown that CAF and its member associations could not efficiently protect our Players health.
Olympiacos is proud of the fact that it holds a large number of Players playing for their national teams but on the same time is highly concerned and damaged by the non-compliance with the FIFA International Match Protocols of certain CAF members (reports were made of even four players sharing one hotel room in some occasions) thus resulting to our Players getting infected by Covid-19 and our Club been deprived from their services during crucial championship and UCL matches.
During the October release window one of our key Players (Mady Camara) returned to the Club positive to Covid-19 after joining the Guinea National Team for friendly (!) matches, and as a result he missed several Greek championship matches as well as the two first Olympiacos’ fixtures of the 2019/2020 UCL Group Stage.
Now following the November international release window, two more Olympiacos Players (so far) have been reported Covid-19 positive after resuming international duty with CAF member- Associations national teams. More specifically, Yussef El Arabi was tested positive while he was with the Morocco national team, and Egyptian international Ahmed Mahgoub Hassan was tested positive after the match of his national team played at Tongo on 17.11.2020. To make matters worse, Yussef El Arabi is now stranded in Cameroon were the match between Morocco and “Central African Republic” was played and he is not allowed to leave the country due to travel restrictions! 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.
We are more than certain that several other European Clubs will more than likely face similar problems as a result of the non–compliance with the FIFA International Match Protocols.
Our players have been obviously exposed to unacceptable conditions as a result of the fact that there are Associations that obviously do not implement FIFA International Match Protocols nor detailed and strict protocols similar as those implemented in UEFA Competitions and by most European Associations.
With the domestic and international competitions entering in a crucial phase it is impossible to determine the damages incurred to our Club by being deprived from the services of our Players being tested positive during or just after international duty.
Thus, we are obliged to express our deepest disappointment for a policy that leaves Clubs totally unprotected when they invest millions in trying to keep football alive especially at times when they see their revenues collapse. And more importantly to express our deepest concern on a policy that not only alters the terms of the competitions in a way impossible to calculate, but more importantly exposes the Players health into high danger.
As a Club participating in European competitions and a longstanding ECA member we believe that Covid-19 epidemic crisis on a global scale once again raises issues of liability questions regarding player infection, short and long-term health impairments and protection/compensation of/for wages, medical cost or loss of future income, the implementation of a centralized detailed information system by FIFA, the Confederations and National Associations on how the various National Associations are implementing the requirements set out in the FIFA International Match Protocol, as well as related information from local authorities (specifically quarantine obligations), before and during the past two international windows and in the future (starting from March international window).
For these reasons we ask you as the supreme and supervising authority in the field of football to take all necessary action to immediately and effectively tackle these issues for the good of all competitions, both internationally and domestically.