FIFA clear Liverpool's Joel Matip to return after dismissing Cameroonian FA's case

FIFA clear Liverpool's Joel Matip to return after dismissing Cameroonian FA's case

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip has been freed to play again after FIFA dismissed the case of Cameroon, who argued he shouldn't be allowed to play for his club while they were involved at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Charlie Malam

FIFA have confirmed Liverpool defender Joel Matip's eligibility, making him immediately available for their Premier League clash with Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.

The charges against the player, and the club, were dropped - as confirmed by the governing body of world football on Friday after they considered the evidence and decided against an investigation.

Liverpool had grown frustrated at FIFA's failure to provide assistance on whether Matip would be allowed to play while Cameroon were involved in the Africa Cup of Nations.

FECAFOOT's complaint, and their insistence that Matip should not be allowed to play for his club having rejected his call-up to the national team for the tournament in Gabon after being named in Hugo Broos' provisional 35-man squad.

Liverpool, and Matip, were adamant that they had met the criteria to allow the 25-year-old to be available - and FIFA's ruling has ensured the wrangle comes to a welcome end.

Matip had already missed last weekend's draw with Manchester United, and the mid-week FA Cup third round replay win over Plymouth Argyle, as Liverpool avoided risking punishment.

FIFA had failed to clear whether Matip would face disciplinary action or not, simply stating that he could be held to account if he were played and they then later found he was ineligible to do so.

Matip back in contention for Reds' first-team after debacle comes to an end

Had a hearing into the matter been opened, Matip could have been left waiting for a final decision for another 10 days - meaning he would have been at risk of missing another three games, including the visit of Paul Clement's struggling Swansea to Anfield.

He might even have been unavailable until mid-February if FIFA were to rule in Cameroon's favour and the Indomitable Lions were to progress all the way to the final, on February 5.

But he is now available and could make an instant return to the starting line-up - though it is expected he will be named on the substitutes' bench.

That's because Jürgen Klopp revealed in his pre-match press conference earlier on Friday that Matip had only played a minor role in their preparations in training for their fixture against the Swans.

Matip hasn't played for Cameroon since September 2015 and has always insisted he has retired from international duty, although his national team included him in the preliminary squad before omitting him from the final selection for AFCON.

It was thought earlier this week that the fact Matip didn't put his retirement in writing, although not a requirement, further confused the situation - Cameroon feeling he should have reported for international duty earlier this month.

The availability of the former Schalke centre-back, who only joined Liverpool in the summer, is a huge boost with a crucial EFL Cup semi-final second-leg with Southampton and a crunch league clash at home to Chelsea both to come before the end of January. 

That Southampton contest is more likely to be the game in which Matip makes his return, having not played since the draw with West Ham United on December 11 with an ankle injury.