September 8 – In a landmark move that could serve as a significant precedent elsewhere in Europe, two of this weekend’s top Spanish league games have been postponed because of players on prolonged international duty with their South American teams.
The fixtures between Barcelona and Sevilla and Villarreal and Alavés, originally scheduled for Saturday, will be played at later dates. New dates are still to be agreed.
The Spanish FA had initially denied the league’s request for a postponement arguing it didn’t consider the absence of some players a reason good enough to change the schedule.
But Spain’s sports council ruled in favour of the appeal to postpone the matches.
The federation said the postponements created “a dangerous precedent for international sports” as it would be the “first time that a domestic league suspended matches because players were called up by their national teams.”
It said the council’s decision was “totally illegal” and that both FIFA and UEFA supported the federation’s stance. The Spanish league later said it was not aware that either body had expressed any kind of support for the federation.
The league had originally tried to block players from going to South America’s triple-header of World Cup qualifiers because players would return too close to the resumption of matches in Spain.
The reason for the impasse was that FIFA extended the international window to allow South American teams to play a third World Cup qualifier less than two days before domestic leagues were due to resume in Europe.
The Spanish league had already rescheduled some matches from Saturday to Sunday to give players more time to rest, including Real Madrid’s home game against Celta Vigo.
But the fixtures between Sevilla and Barcelona and Villarreal and Alavés could not be moved to Sunday because Barcelona and Villarreal begin their campaigns in the Champions League the following Tuesday.
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