FIFA President Gianni Infantino has urged the English Premier League and others to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Infantino said this in a statement on FIFA’s website on Wednesday after the EPL stated that it will not release players for matches in COVID-19 red-list countries.
The league had revealed a blanket ban for the September period over fears that players who travelled to red-list countries would have to follow UK coronavirus quarantine regulations ruling them out of several of their club’s matches.
This means Liverpool could refuse to release Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker for Brazil’s three upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Egypt, which is included in UK’s red list like Brazil, could also be deprived of Mohamed Salah by Liverpool.
“Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month,” the Premier League said in a statement on their website.
“The clubs’ decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window.
“This follows FIFA’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.”
Infantino writes UK PM Boris Johnson
Infantino revealed in his statement that he has written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson concerning the EPL’s decision.
The FIFA President said players from red-list countries should not be deprived of the chance of playing in the coming World Cup qualifiers.
He said, “We have faced global problems together in the past and must continue to do so in the future. The release of players in the upcoming international windows is a matter of great urgency and importance. I am grateful for the support and cooperation from many stakeholders in the game during this challenging period.
“I am calling on a show of solidarity from every member association, every league, and every club, to do what is both right and fair for the global game. Many of the best players in the world compete in leagues in England and Spain, and we believe these countries also share the responsibility to preserve and protect the sporting integrity of competitions around the world.
“On the issue of quarantine restrictions in England, for players returning from red-list countries, I have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appealed for the necessary support, in particular, so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, which is one of the ultimate honours for a professional footballer. I have suggested that an approach similar to that adopted by the UK government for the final stages of the EURO 2020 be implemented for the upcoming international matches.
“Together we have shown solidarity and unity in the fight against COVID-19. Now, I am urging everyone to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.”