The Premier League might be headed for something of a row with FIFA and international teams next week. Yesterday, the league announced that teams won’t be releasing players that have to travel to countries on the U.K.’s “red list,” which is pretty much all of South America and a lot of Africa.
Why that is, is because the U.K. government isn’t making exceptions for athletes, which means anyone returning from these countries would have to be quarantined for 10 days in a hotel. That means that players returning from international duty would miss two Premier League games, and maybe a Champions League game as well. After all, sitting in a hotel room for a week and a half would require getting some fitness back afterward. Teams could be without important players for up to two weeks. That clearly didn’t fly. La Liga has also said it would allow clubs to not allow players to be released.
The Premier League and the other leagues around Europe did this in the spring as well, which caused South America to postpone most of its World Cup qualifiers slotted for then. FIFA didn’t mind then, but it doesn’t have the same rules now, which means teams that don’t allow players to go off to their international teams could be forced to be without their players the following week in the Premier League, per FIFA rules. FIFA states that any club that doesn’t release its players for international duty can’t use that player while that international team is playing, plus five days. But teams are clearly going to think that not having players for one game is better than losing them for two or three.
This won’t help Brazil and Argentina, who will have three WC qualifiers they’ll have to play without a host of players that play in the Premier League. Or Egypt, which will be without its talisman Mohamed Salah, as Liverpool aren’t letting him go either.
Needless to say, these federations aren’t going to just accept this, and this fight over the next week could very well get loud.