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FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Serie A back clubs in player release row as FIFA chief seeks British exemptions

Serie A announced on Wednesday that it would support clubs that decide not to release players for World Cup duty who would have to quarantine on their return, as FIFA chief Gianni Infantino pleaded with the British government to allow exemptions for players.

In a short statement, Serie A added that it disagreed with “FIFA’s decision to not extend exceptions for call-ups to countries where quarantine upon re-entry is mandatory”, saying it “would create a competitive disparity for the teams who allow their players to travel to those countries”.

The announcement from Italy’s top flight comes after England’s Premier League said on Tuesday it would stop individuals from featuring for countries on the UK government’s red list, meaning a quarantine on return, for September’s matches.

Faced with the prospect of having to quarantine for 10 days on their return, Liverpool’s Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus are likely to miss out.

Spain’s La Liga also said it would back its clubs in stopping players from leaving during the windows in September and October.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino demanded that both those leagues and national federations “show solidarity” with international competitions.

Infantino said he had contacted British authorities after England loosened Covid-19 regulations during Euro 2020 in June and July.

“I have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appealed for the necessary support, in particular, so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup,” he said.

“I have suggested that an approach similar to that adopted by the UK government for the final stages of the Euro 2020 be implemented for the upcoming international matches.

“Now, I am urging everyone to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.”

Also on Tuesday, the English Football League, who control the second to the fourth tier of the sport, also said it would stop players from representing their countries.

“Discussions had taken place between the Government, FA and FIFA in an effort to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red-list countries, no exemption has been granted,” the EFL said.

“Given there would be a requirement to quarantine for 10 clear days upon return from a red-list country, the potential impact on players are numerous with considerations relating to health and well-being along with unknown risks relating to COVID-19 transmission,” it added.

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