Senegal have accused Watford of refusing to release Ismaila Sarr for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Forward Sarr, 23, was named in the Senegal squad last month despite currently being sidelined with a knee injury sustained in November.
The 24-team competition being held in Cameroon begins on January 9 and will feature a host of leading Premier League and European players.
“By mail on Friday, December 31, the English club Watford notified on the basis of arguments equally specious as fallacious its decision to block the player Ismaila Sarr, who has expressed his desire to join the Senegalese selection for the next Cup of Nations in Cameroon,” said a Senegal Football Federation (FSF) statement.
The FSF added it responded immediately to confirm the player’s call-up and the club’s obligation to release the player by no later than January 3.
Senegal, the 2019 runners-up, say they will take the matter up with FIFA if required.
“The Senegal Football Federation wishes to express with this communication its deep condemnation of the disrespectful, pernicious and discriminatory behaviour of Watford’s hierarchy who look by all means to prevent a player from playing with his national team,” the statement concluded.
Sky Sports News has approached Watford for comment.
Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis, who has scored eight Premier League goals since his summer arrival, will not join up with Nigeria after the club said the Nigeria Football Federation did not request him for the tournament in time.
Head coach Claudio Ranieri insisted Watford had not disrespected the Africa Cup of Nations after Nigeria accused them of “baring fangs”.
Watford sit 17th in the Premier League club, two points outside the relegation places, after a spottage-time winner by Tottenham on Saturday consigned them to a sixth successive loss.
Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright says media coverage of Europe-based players travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations is “disrespectful” and “tinged with racism”.
The 24-team competition begins on January 9 and will feature a host of leading Premier League players, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.
Wright said coverage of the tournament and the issue of player release during the European season is in marked contrast to how Euro 2020 was treated.
“Is there ever a tournament more disrespected than the Africa Cup of Nations?” Wright said in a video posted on Instagram.
“There is no greater honour than representing your country. The coverage is completely tinged with racism.
“We played our Euros across 10 countries in the middle of a pandemic and there’s no issue at all. But Cameroon, a single country hosting a tournament, is a problem.”
Wright added that he objected to players being asked whether or not they intend to play for their countries.
“You are getting players getting asked if they will be honouring the call-ups to their national teams. Imagine if that was an English player representing the Three Lions. Can you imagine the furore?”