COVID-19 might well be sufficiently under control in the UK, allowing football matches to take place and spectators to return to stadiums to support their favourite teams, but there are still many countries in the full throes of the pandemic.
Because of this, English Premier League (EPL) clubs have united against FIFA and are set to deny players to be released for international duties to any of the countries on the UK’s Red List.
Their stance is to do with the lack of exemptions allowed for players coming back having played in these countries. The Premier League itself backs the decision which the clubs have taken unanimously but with reluctance.
They have also voiced their concern regarding FIFA’s ruling over players returning from Conmebol (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol – the South American Football Confederation) teams which are allowed to play three fixtures over the next couple of international breaks.
The absence of EPL players obviously affects some countries more than others. Those red-listed countries with key players, playing in the EPL will suffer most – two of them being Egypt and Brazil.
With Egypt, we are talking about Liverpool’s Mo Salah, of course. The Egyptian FA has just been officially advised via a letter from Liverpool FC, that Salah will not be joining them for next week’s tie against Angola, a game scheduled to take place next week in Cairo.
Salah will be sorely missed. Not only is he in the top 10 list of Europe’s deadliest strikers, but he is also the second-highest goalscorer of all time for Egypt, with his tally of 43 international goals. The top scorer is Hossam Hassan, with 68 goals for the Pharaohs.
If Liverpool were to release Salah for Egypt’s game against Angola, he would have to go into quarantine for ten days on his return to the UK, meaning that he would miss the game against Leeds United on September 12.
They will, however, allow the 29-year-old Egyptian marksman to play against Gabon three days after the match with Angol, as at the moment, Gabon are on the UK’s so-called amber list.
In South America, the international fixtures window has been extended to September 9, which means any EPL players involved would have to be quarantined until September 19.
It has prompted Liverpool FC to make similar decisions regarding Alisson, Fabinho and Firminio. All three are Brazillian nationals, and Liverpool has written to the Brazilian FA advising that they will not be available to play in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
Manchester City has also taken the same action with regard to their Brazillian players – Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.