Infantino tells European clubs to stop abusing rules and release players for national duty

By Andrew Warshaw

March 19 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino today called on clubs, mainly those in Europe, not to take unfair advantage of the relaxation of the rules concerning the release of players for the March international programme.

FIFA recently agreed to extend until the end of April loosening the rules that traditionally force clubs to release players during international windows if they would have to quarantine on their return due to coronavirus regulations.

Some clubs are wary of letting their players leave for international duty but Infantino urged them to abide by the spirit of the relaxation.

“We are living in a very difficult situation, especially but not only in Europe with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Infantino told a virtual news conference following the latest FIFA Council meeting. “Health has to remain a priority which is why we relaxed our rules a bit.”

“(But) Obviously  we would like the March games to go ahead with the best possible squads. We call on all parties to understand that national team football is very important for the vast majority of countries round the world.”

“Of course we can’t force a player to go and play if that would put his health at risk and governments take decisions that have to be respected. We will see how many exemptions can be granted by governments and hope the upcoming national team games will be played in the best conditions.”

The FIFA Council also agreed today for future hosts of the women’s World Cup to be chosen by the full 211-member Congress.

Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.

But in future, just like occurred with the men’s game  as part of Fifa reforms, the process for the Women’s World Cup “is going to change,” said Infantino. “It was probably long overdue.”

Turning to the 2022 World Cup, with a new report by Amnesty International due to be released on Monday into Qatar’s human rights record, Infantino said FIFA would analyse the report but added: “We have to be fair and admit a lot of progress has been made. This has been recognised by international organisations.”

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