Liverpool Block Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson
Liverpool Block Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson from playing for Egypt and Brazil next week because their ‘red list’ status would force stars into 10-day hotel quarantine, in new club vs country row
Liverpool have blocked Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson form playing for their countries next week due to concerns over Covid-19 and quarantine rules.
Salah was called up to the Egypt squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Gabon and Angola while the other three players were set to be picked for Brazil’s three fixtures.
Both Egypt and Brazil are on the UK’s red travel list, meaning the players would have faced a 10-day quarantine in a hotel upon their return to England.
Liverpool have since said they are prepared to release Salah for the Gabon game, because the country is on the UK’s amber list. But game with Angola is set to be played in Egypt’s capital of Cairo. As Egypt is on the red list, Salah would need to quarantine after taking part in the match.
All four players would likely miss Liverpool’s match against Leeds if they joined up with their international team-mates.
In a statement, Egypt said they have asked FIFA for a travel exemption, meaning Salah would be able to play for his country and not face quarantine when he returned to the UK.
The full statement read: ‘The Egyptian Football Association continues its continuous contacts with the International Football Association regarding facilitating the task of international players joining their national teams to participate in the World Cup qualifiers, which requires exempting them from travel restrictions imposed on them in the countries in which they play due to the Corona pandemic, so that they can join their national teams.
‘The Egyptian Football Association had received a letter from Liverpool FC apologizing for the inability of its player, Mohamed Salah, to join the national team in its next camp, which includes facing Angola in Cairo and Gabon in Franceville during the first and second rounds of the African continent’s qualifiers for the World Cup.
‘The English club’s letter referred to the precautionary measures applied in England to confront the outbreak of the Corona virus in the world, which puts returnees from some countries in compulsory health isolation for a period of ten days upon their return to England.
‘In this letter, the English club also expressed its hope that the Egyptian Federation would understand that it was forced to do so, in the face of the player being subjected to a quarantine for this period and being affected by this physically, as well as the uncertainty of the conditions of the place of the stone determined by the English authorities.
‘It is reported that Liverpool FC took the same position with a number of its foreign players.’
Sportsmail reported that Premier League chiefs were lobbying Government for quarantine exemptions to avoid their star players being forced to isolate in hotels and face missing key Premier League and Champions League matches.
Players travelling to red-list countries like Egypt, Brazil and Argentina could miss up to four matches for their clubs if they travel for international duty.
The World Cup qualifiers in October could affect players’ availability for the opening group-stage clashes in the Champions League.
It comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that FIFA have scrapped their temporary rule that allowed clubs to refuse to release players for international duty who faced more than five days quarantine.
To try and avoid a disaster clash of interests, The FA and Premier League are understood to have already met with senior figures at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) to make their case for exemptions with clubs in support of the move.
Last week, sources at DCMS suggested exemptions were unlikely to be granted and on Saturday night there had still been no resolution to the dispute.
British & Irish Lions players were denied quarantine exemptions when they returned from their South Africa tour earlier this month.
Government are aware of the financial benefits the Premier League bring to the country but are also mindful an elite exemption will lead to accusations of double-standards with regular members of the public having to abide by quarantine rules.
The situation is further complicated by Europe’s biggest clubs being furious with FIFA for extending the international break window for the South American qualifiers so close to Premier League games it will be virtually impossible for the players to play in both – even if isolation rules are lifted.
South American nations are cramming in a third game after previous games were postponed due to the pandemic
The third of Brazil’s triple-header, against Peru, finishes at 3am UK time on Friday, September 10, less than 36 hours before a Premier League programme that includes Manchester City against Leicester, United versus Newcastle and Chelsea at home to Aston Villa and Tottenham at Crystal Palace. These games would usually involve the likes of Fred, Gabriel Jesus, Thiago Silva and Giovani Lo Celso.
If the situation is not resolved and carries into the October international break, the likes of Salah and Firmino could also miss Liverpool’s game against Manchester United.
The European Club Association, backed by City, United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs, have deemed the move by FIFA as ‘unacceptable’ and are fighting back to avoid it becoming commonplace for international games to clash with club matches.