Premier League clubs banned from playing Brazilian players after blocking international call-ups

Five clubs could be without players for the next round of fixtures and are understood to be ready to contest the move

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Wednesday 08 September 2021 16:44 BST
<p>Liverpool have been told they can’t play Fabinho and Roberto Firmino </p>

Liverpool have been told they can’t play Fabinho and Roberto Firmino

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Premier League clubs will contest Fifa’s enforcing of Brazil’s request to bar their internationals from featuring for a period of five days, which would impact top-flight and Champions League fixtures.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leeds United believe there is no basis for such action given the extraordinary circumstances around Covid restrictions which prevented players from being able to travel and report for national team duty.

The situation affects eight players across the period of September 10 -14, which is when automatic restrictions will apply under Fifa’s regulations.

The Independent understands the governing body has not willingly opted into this action, but have been forced by an association demanding it be invoked.

Brazil, particularly having seen Argentina field Premier League players, are furious that they were denied their talent for World Cup qualifiers.

But the drama in that encounter, where Anvisa, Brazil's health regulator, stormed onto the pitch to apprehend Argentina’s UK-based players only strengthens the position of the Premier League clubs.

Brazil have waived their right to ask for Richarlison to be excluded for Everton’s game with Burnley on Monday due to enjoying a strong relationship with the club.

The Merseysiders allowed Richarlison to play in the Olympics in Tokyo, which helped Brazil land a gold medal.

That has only infuriated the affected parties further. Liverpool will be without Alisson, Fabinho and the injured Roberto Firmino, against Leeds on Sunday. Their opponents cannot select Raphinha.

Manchester City won’t be able to count on Ederson or Gabriel Jesus against Leicester City on Saturday.

Thiago Silva will have to sit out Chelsea’s games against Aston Villa and Zenit St Petersburg while Fred will miss United’s clash with Newcastle and the Champions League away tie at Young Boys.

The potential impact on the integrity of European competition is one of the key issues that has been raised by clubs.

The clubs are working in tandem to find a solution with the Premier League, Brazil, the FA and Fifa.

The Independent has been told that sanctions are “possible” rather than definitive and that the ideal outcome will be resolved soon with the players not being punished for something that was out of their control.

Chile, Mexico and Paraguay have also requested that Fifa apply these restrictions, which would affect Watford’s ability to use Francisco Sierralta and Blackburn Rovers’ Ben Brereton.

Wolves would be without Raul Jimenez and Miguel Almiron wouldn’t be able to feature for Newcastle.

The current state of play, described by one source as “chaos everyone could do without”, materialised after English teams, together with the European Club Association, said there would be no release of players for September’s qualifiers.

This was unless authorities could avert the need for players to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel upon their return to the UK. Fifa unsuccessfully tried to lobby the government for such an exception.

This ultimately means that blocking the players from featuring would be penalising them and their clubs for doing the right thing by following England’s health advice on travel to red-list countries.

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