Premier League clubs ‘reluctantly but unanimously’ refuse to release international players to so-called Covid ‘red list’ countries

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Premier League clubs have unanimously decided to not release players to so-called ‘red list’ countries in the upcoming international break to avoid them being forced to undertake mandatory 10-day quarantine on their return.

Under current UK government guidelines, players travelling back into England after spending time in countries designated as Covid-19 hotspots will be required to isolate, potentially meaning that they will be forced to miss several domestic games as a result. 

The Premier League says that it held lengthy discussions with The FA and the government in order to find a solution, but confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that “no exemption had been granted.”

“Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month,” read the announcement.

Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month Full statement: https://t.co/JBl6FuzUNCpic.twitter.com/EJiZaODub1

— Premier League (@premierleague) August 24, 2021

“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.

“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 matchday 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.”

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Among the countries on the UK’s red list are Argentina, Brazil and Egypt – with the Egyptian FA confirming on Monday that they had already been notified by Liverpool that star player Mohamed Salah would be unavailable for a September 2 game in Cairo.

The September 5 World Cup Qualifier between Brazil and Argentina in Rio de Janeiro will also be particularly hard hit, with Brazil now set to be without a host of their Premier League stars including Liverpool trio Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, as well as Manchester City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus. 

Brazil’s captain, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, will now also be absent. Premier League chief executive Richard Masters elaborated on what is sure to be an unpopular decision for fans of the likes of Brazil and Egypt – as well as with the players themselves.

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“Premier League clubs have always supported their players’ desires to represent their countries – this is a matter of pride for all concerned,” Masters said.

“However, clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances.

“Quarantine requirements mean that players’ welfare and fitness will be significantly impacted. We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions.”

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