Premier League at loggerheads with FIFA as Brazil invoke ban on its stars
Liverpool, both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Leeds United are facing a fallout with Fifa after Brazil invoked a rule stopping them from playing eight of their star names this weekend.
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.
There is lingering hope of a compromise agreement if Downing Street agrees to travel exemptions for the next international window, Telegraph Sport understands. However, Whitehall sources cast doubt on suggestions within the football world that the Government was open to the prospect of wading in.
Liverpool and Manchester City are understood to be hopeful of getting the ban overturned after their players were caught in the crosshairs of an escalating diplomatic spat.
The furore 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.
As it stands, 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.
However, 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.
Negotiations over the next 24 hours are expected to take place directly between the clubs and national associations. Premier League chiefs do not take a primary role in such matters – but will be part of “ongoing dialogue”, one source close to talks added.
Brazil had asked the world governing body to invoke the five-day rule, which would affect eight top tier players, a week after Chile, Mexico and Paraguay asked Fifa to do so.
The timing of the intervention is significant as Fifa announced on Tuesday night that Brazil was being facing disciplinary proceedings alongside Argentina around the farce that saw the visiting team marched off the pitch on Sunday for playing four Premier League-based players in Sao Paulo.
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.
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 on Tuesday.
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.”
On Sunday, the World Cup qualifier against Brazil was abandoned just eight minutes after kick-off after health officials objected to their Premier League players’ participation.