Release rule quarantined: FIFA says clubs can hold on to players in March window

February 9 – FIFA is extending until the end of April its relaxation of the rules that force clubs to release players for international duty.

Clubs can prevent their players from linking up with national teams if they would have to quarantine on their return due to coronavirus regulations.

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to provide additional flexibility regarding the release of players for national team duty and the registration of players with clubs in competitions that remain disrupted by the pandemic,” FIFA said in a statement.

The  measures could have a significant impact on English-based players from countries where there is currently no elite sport exemption from a 10-day quarantine requirement.

Manchester City’s Portugal trio of Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo are among those who could miss three World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan, Serbia and Luxembourg. Liverpool’s Brazilian contingent of Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, Colombia duo James Rodriguez and Yerry Mina at Everton and Manchester United’s Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani are among the South American stars at risk of missing two rounds of World Cup qualifiers.

In all 135 national teams are set to play World Cup qualifying games in March, with 48 more in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The exemptions were introduced late last year amid a backlog of World Cup qualifiers in Asia and South America.

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