Premier League clubs ‘decide unanimously’ not to release international players for games in red-list countries

Last season saw several players across Europe’s major leagues miss matches after international duty, having tested positive for coronavirus

Alex Pattle
Tuesday 24 August 2021 19:21
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<p>Liverpool forward Mo Salah on international duty with Egypt</p>

Liverpool forward Mo Salah on international duty with Egypt

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Premier League clubs have decided against letting their players travel to red-list countries for international fixtures during the upcoming domestic break.

Last season saw several players across Europe’s major leagues miss matches after international duty, having tested positive for coronavirus while away for their national teams.

On Monday, the Egyptian FA released a statement saying Liverpool had rejected a call-up for Mohamed Salah for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers due to concerns over Covid-19.

It was also reported by The Times that Liverpool and Manchester City had opted not to let six players travel to South America and Africa.

Meanwhile, Newcastle coach Steve Bruce suggested it would be “highly unlikely” that Paraguay forward Miguel Almiron would be allowed to travel to South America for World Cup in September.

As many as 60 players in the Premier League might have been affected by the need to self-isolate following the international breaks in September and October.

On Tuesday, the Premier League released a statement that read: “Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month.

“The clubs’ decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window.

“This follows Fifa’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty. Extensive discussions have taken place with both The FA and the Government to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red-list countries, no exemption has been granted.

“If required to quarantine on return from red list countries, not only would players’ welfare and fitness be significantly impacted, but they would also be unavailable to prepare for and play in two Premier League match rounds, a Uefa club competition matchday and the third round of the EFL Cup.

“This period takes into consideration 10 days of hotel quarantine on return to England but does not include any additional time that would be required for players to regain match fitness.

“Clubs also discussed their dissatisfaction with Fifa’s decision to extend [the South American Football Confederation’s] international window by two days in September and October from nine to 11 days. This places additional international obligations on players from that region, to the detriment of their availability to represent their clubs. Fifa was urged to work with all stakeholders to ensure an agreeable conclusion can be reached on the issue.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Premier League clubs have always supported their players’ desires to represent their countries – this is a matter of pride for all concerned. However, clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances.

“Quarantine requirements mean that players’ welfare and fitness will be significantly impacted. We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions.”

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