Premier League clubs call urgent meeting
Premier League clubs call urgent meeting to come together to REFUSE to let their players travel to ‘red list’ countries for next week’s international matches, as club vs country row involving up to 60 top footballers gathers momentum
Premier League clubs are set to unite in refusing to let their stars travel to ‘red list’ countries for international matches next month.
The English top flight has taken urgent action to arrange a meeting for today, as first reported by The Times, to decide their approach regarding players due to represent their countries that appear on the UK’s ‘red list’.
The meeting comes with Manchester City set to take the same drastic steps as Liverpool and refuse to allow their players to take part in next month’s World Cup qualifiers due to the coronavirus quarantine rules in the UK.
In what is rapidly unfolding as another stark divide between club and country, City are the latest Premier League side to prevent stars from joining up with their international teams, as they would face isolation when they returned.
The Telegraph have claimed that Ederson and Gabriel Jesus will not be allowed to play for Brazil, a dramatic move just days on from Liverpool also stopping Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho from travelling.
Each of the players would have touched down in a country on the UK’s ‘red list’, resulting in a period of quarantine when back on home soil. This would have seen them staying in a hotel for 10 days, and missing matches.
Premier League chiefs were lobbying the Government for exemptions to the restrictions. As reported by Sportsmail, they met with senior figures at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to make their case.
Sportsmail understands that the exemptions will not be granted. This has led to the current stand-off, and other clubs are set to follow Liverpool and City’s example.
The Government were aware of the financial benefits that the Premier League brings to the country, but were also mindful that giving the green light for exemptions would undoubtedly lead to accusations of double-standards.
Players would miss up to four games when they return from the qualifiers, including two Premier League fixtures, one round of Carabao Cup games and also the opening group stage clashes in the Champions League.
FIFA, meanwhile, have axed the temporary rule that allowed clubs to refuse to release players for international duty who were set for more than five days of quarantine. They have postponed Covid-hit ties in the past.
Clubs are furious that allowing players to travel with their countries would see them miss out on domestic action, and the European Club Association (ECA) has formally protested to FIFA over the requirements for South American players.
A letter from the ECA to all member clubs said: ‘FIFA’s decisions were taken unilaterally and against the explicit objection of ECA and the rest of the stakeholders.
‘ECA has made clear that it will not accept that a governing body like FIFA abuses its regulatory function in order to place its commercial interests and those of its member associations above the physical wellbeing of players.’
It has been revealed that top-flight clubs are currently in discussions over the travel headache, and Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has pleaded for ‘common sense’. He believes up to 60 players are set to be affected currently.
Miguel Almiron is among those who will be forced into quarantine should he play with Paraguay, while Leeds’ Raphinha, Fred of Manchester United, Everton forward Richarlison and Chelsea’s Thiago Silva also face time away.
‘The (Premier League) clubs themselves are speaking about it. It affects us,’ Bruce said. ‘I think it would be highly unlikely to send your players to a red country. It is a difficult situation for everyone concerned.
‘We are taking advice from the Premier League. You cannot let him (Almiron) go and expect him to stay in a hotel for 10 days because he will then miss three games for us on his return.
So it is a concern. Let’s hope like all of these things that common sense prevails. We are aware of it and we are already in talks with the Premier League and to other Premier League bosses in exactly how we go about it.
‘Liverpool have an issue with three or four, but if affects something like 60 players. So let’s hope common sense prevails.’
Egypt’s FA announced that Liverpool would not release Salah for their World Cup qualifiers against Angolo in Cairo and in Gabon. Yesterday, though, they were said to be prepared to let Salah play in the latter, as it is not on the red list.
In a statement, Egypt also revealed they have asked FIFA for an exemption. This would spare Salah from mandatory quarantine when he touched back down in the UK, and would allow him to turn out for them.
But Anfield team-mates Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho, as well as Ederson and Jesus, may miss all three of Brazil’s matches with their nation scheduled to face Argentina, Chile and Peru. All four countries are included on the red list.
The latest developments come shortly after a survey from the Mail on Sunday, which revealed that a large number of players across the Premier League and the Football League are yet to receive their vaccinations.
The poll, which was conducted with club managers from the top four divisions, makes for alarming reading, while bosses continue to urge their stars to get jabbed. They also insist, however, that it is down to each individual’s choice.
UK’S RED TRAVEL LIST
Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mayotte, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe