Club vs country: PL teams see red over release of players for national duty

August 24 – English Premier League clubs and other members of the European Clubs Association look set for a showdown with FIFA by banning players from visiting so-called “red list” countries for September’s international break.

International rules say players must be released to play for their nations but the clubs argue that unless quarantine requirements are lifted, they will not allow their players to travel.

Argentina, Brazil and Egypt are among those are on the UK’s red list and a host of star names could miss out rather than be forced into a 10-day period of hotel isolation on their return. Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Turkey and Uruguay are among the others nations on the government’s red list.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is one of those who will miss out, with Egypt’s World Cup qualifier in Cairo against Angola taking place on September 2.

Brazil host Argentina in a high-profile qualifier at the Maracana on September 5 and if the ECA maintains its stance superstars like Lionel Messi and Neymar at Paris St Germain would also be prevented from travelling since Brazil and Argentina are on France’s red list too.

Altogether eight British-based players were named in the upcoming Brazil squad, with Liverpool trio Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino joined by Ederson and Gabriel Jesus (both Manchester City), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Fred (Manchester United), Richarlison (Everton) and Raphinha (Leeds United).

Aston Villa and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who started in the 1-0 Copa America final win over Brazil last month, would likewise be prevented from playing.

Earlier this year, FIFA announced that the exemption allowing clubs not to release players for international duty would end, meaning clubs could face sanctions if they stop players joining up with their national sides.

Unless quarantine exemptions are made, players would be forced to miss several domestic league matches because of the 10-day isolation period required on return to the UK. Liverpool have already said they will refuse to release their players.

The Egyptian Football Association said on its website that Liverpool had apologised for not allowing Salah to join up with the national team.

“The Egyptian Football Association has received a letter from Liverpool apologising 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.”

However, Liverpool have confirmed that they are happy for Salah to play in the away fixture against Gabon because of not having to enter a red-list country.

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