Premier League clubs have united in defiance of Fifa and refused to release players for international duty in countries on the UK’s red list.
The escalating row over quarantine restrictions, and the lack of exemptions for players returning from red‑zone countries, led to Premier League clubs “reluctantly but unanimously” deciding to take action at a meeting on Tuesday. The Premier League, which has backed the clubs’ stance, has also registered its concern at Fifa’s decision to allow Conmebol teams to play three fixtures in the next two international breaks.
On Monday the Egypt FA revealed it had received a letter from Liverpool explaining why Mohamed Salah would not be released for the World Cup qualifier against Angola in Cairo next week. Liverpool have also informed the Brazilian FA that Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino would not be released for their World Cup qualifiers against Chile, Argentina and Peru as they, and Salah, would need to quarantine for 10 days on their return. Manchester City had adopted the same stance with Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.
Nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs were due to travel to 26 red-zone countries in the September international window.
In a statement the Premier League confirmed the decision “follows Fifa’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty”, adding: “Extensive discussions have taken place with both the FA and the government to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red-list countries, no exemption has been granted.
“If required to quarantine on return from red list countries, not only would players’ welfare and fitness be significantly impacted but they would also be unavailable to prepare for and play in two Premier League match rounds, a Uefa club competition match-day and the third round of the EFL Cup. This period takes into consideration 10 days of hotel quarantine on return to England but does not include any additional time that would be required for players to regain match fitness.”
The Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “Premier League clubs have always supported their players’ desires to represent their countries – this is a matter of pride for all concerned. However, clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances. We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions.”
Clubs also discussed their “dissatisfaction” with Fifa’s decision to extend Conmebol’s international window in September and October from nine to 11 days. “This places additional international obligations on players from that region, to the detriment of their availability to represent their clubs,” the Premier League statement read. “Fifa was urged to work with all stakeholders to ensure an agreeable conclusion can be reached on the issue.”