The Government is considering relaxing its red list restrictions for Premier League footballers in a bid to ease the game’s escalating club versus country crisis, the Daily Telegraph understands.
Potential solutions to ensure clubs will release players in the next window have been drawn up by senior Whitehall figures and are now under consideration by Public Health England.
Full exemptions appear unlikely, but a compromise – which could even allow Tottenham and Aston Villa’s four Argentinian players to return earlier than expected – appears close to being reached.
A solution this week is possible although senior footballing figures fear it will be too late for Brazil to change their mind in stopping their eight star players featuring in England’s top tier this weekend.
In total, 11 players are now banned from playing this weekend following a backlash from South America against a Premier League pact to stop stars from travelling before the international window opened.
Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, had written to clubs to say he is still hopeful of striking a solution, but on Wednesday the league was dealt its heaviest blow as Brazil confirmed it would join other nations triggering five-day sanctions affecting Liverpool, the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Leeds United.
The furore following the farce involving health authorities stopping Brazil’s match with Argentina after just eight minutes on Sunday comes a fortnight after Fifa president Gianni Infantino wrote to Boris Johnson to urge him to give footballers allowances to play games in red list countries.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is understood to be pushing for a solution, having played a key role ensuring Government previously showed flexibility in granting exemptions around Euro 2020, Wimbledon and the Indian cricket team travelling to England.
Senior figures within world football are also increasingly optimistic that allowances are now within reach to avert another club versus country spat in October and November.
The Telegraph revealed how the Government had previously suggested players could see out their quarantine period at St George’s Park, but that option was swiftly rejected by the clubs.
As it stands, the clubs who held firm on an arrangement to stop players from travelling to red list destinations prior to the current window are now subject to five-day sanctions preventing them from using them in club matches. Clubs have no choice but to follow the Fifa rule as they would be effectively fielding ineligible players if they chose to ignore the governing body. There is no appeal process for such a ruling. Instead, the clubs may need to make direct representations to Brazil to ask the national body to revoke its decision.
Liverpool and City are understood to believe Fifa has no basis to sanction given the extraordinary circumstances around Covid-19 travel rules which prevented them being able to report for international duty.
The ban currently rules out three Liverpool players, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson; Manchester City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus; and Leeds forward Raphinha. Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron and Watford’s Francisco Sierralta are also affected as Mexico, Paraguay and Chile had previously backed sanctions.
Chelsea’s Thiago Silva and Manchester United’s Fred will also be missing from Tuesday’s fixtures, but Everton’s Richarlison has been spared the sanction, and can play against Burnley on Monday because he had been involved in the Olympics and other matches this summer.
Fifa, meanwhile, had announced on Tuesday night that Brazil was facing disciplinary proceedings alongside Argentina over the chaotic scenes that saw the visiting team marched off the pitch on Sunday for playing four Premier League-based players in Sao Paulo.
Uruguay has not asked for the rule to be triggered yet. The punishment is arguably favourable that the 10 day isolation that players would have faced had they been released.
Premier League clubs had unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red list countries due to Fifa’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty. However, Tottenham and Villa’s Argentine contingent ended up travelling to South America regardless.
Charlie Marshall, the European Club Association chief executive, said the chaos involving Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso and Aston Villa pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia illustrated why the clubs should not be punished
“We don’t think there should be sanctions because if a player has to quarantine he is unavailable to immediately play for his club again, so it would be longer than the agreed release period,” he said at an ECA general assembly in Geneva.
Andrea Radrizzani, of Leeds United, had also praised Raphinha for sticking with the club. “We invited him to make a decision and he decided no,” the Italian added. “He showed great respect for his club and the Premier League in giving up this opportunity to play for his country for the first time.”
Source: Yahoo Sports