CAS orders LaLiga clubs to release Conmebol players for extra 2 days of 2022 qualifiers

August 31 – La Liga has been forced to release international players for next month’s South American World Cup qualifiers following a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS ruled in favour of FIFA in rejecting La Liga’s complaint against players being mandated to play for their countries.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid were all due to play league matches immediately after the international break and La Liga said the teams affected had therefore all agreed not to release their players for international duty.

La Liga criticised the CAS ruling, calling FIFA’s order a “plain declaration of intent to intervene in autonomous national leagues”.

It was forced to respond by shifting fixtures for the corresponding weekend, moving Real Madrid-Celta Vigo and Espanyol-Atletico Madrid from Saturday September 11 to Sunday September 12 and requesting Sevilla-Barcelona and Villarreal-Alaves, both set for September 11, to be postponed.

La Liga had appealed against FIFA’s extension to the international window for World Cup qualifiers by two days because it meant players participating would be unable to turn out for their clubs when Spain’s domestic fixtures resume on September 11.

FIFA had announced earlier this month that fixtures missed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be played in September and October, and increased the Conmebol international window by two days until September 10, citing extensive travel and player safety.

FIFA, for its part, said the CAS ruling “confirms the legality of FIFA’s decision.”

“The compromise decision to add two additional days rather than three as requested by the South American confederation Conmebol was taken by the competent FIFA body after consulting all relevant stakeholders and after taking into account all relevant circumstances, in particular, the challenges created by the COVID pandemic and especially health considerations for players.”

“On Wednesday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for a show of solidarity from all member associations, leagues, and clubs, to do what is right and fair for the global game. We now expect the release of players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers in South America to occur in accordance with the recent FIFA decision, the legality and legitimacy of which has today been recognised in today’s CAS ruling.”

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