Football

Fifa backs down on threat to fine EPL clubs who field South American stars this weekend

Fifa will allow English Premier League players from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay to compete this weekend after those countries agreed to waive a five-day travel restriction period, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday (Sept 10).

Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City were among clubs who did not release Brazilian players for the current international break due to them having to travel to Covid-19 “red list” countries.

Sources this week said EPL clubs could face sanctions from Fifa if they played South American players, who were not released for international duty, in this weekend’s games.

But after extensive talks over the past 24 hours between Fifa and the relevant associations, a deal was reached that cleared the way for the players to compete without the risk of the clubs being sanctioned, the source told Reuters.

Fifa, the English FA and Premier League are working closely together to find a solution with the UK government over red-list quarantine restrictions in the October international window, the source added.

Fifa had waived its normal regulations on international call-ups during the Covid-19 pandemic but did not extend that waiver to cover the current games.

Being able to field the previously banned players would come as relief to the managers affected, not least Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

If the Spaniard was unable to pick first-choice goalkeeper Ederson, he would have to play his third-choice custodian Scott Carson against Leicester City on Saturday, as second-choice Zack Steffen is down with Covid-19.

The other Brazilians who did not go for international duty this month include Liverpool's Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, Chelsea's Thiago Silva, Manchester United's Fred, Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus and Leeds United's Raphinha.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo, whose team face Crystal Palace this weekend, said his team's Argentinians Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Colombian Davinson Sanchez would not return to the club until next Saturday.

The trio are currently in Croatia, having defied the ban on travel.

Lo Celso and Romero and Sanchez are able to train outdoors in Croatia and then return to England without quarantining, rather than having to do hard quarantine in a hotel. – AFP, REUTERS

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