London (AFP) – Players based in England will be able to represent their national teams in countries on the UK’s travel red-list this month after a bespoke quarantine exemption was granted on Friday.
A number of South American and African stars were not released by their clubs for the September international break as they would have had to spend 10 days quarantining in a government-mandated hotel on their return to England.
The exemption will allow players who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus to continue training and playing in matches for their clubs.
However, they will still be forced to stay in a hotel or private accommodation provided by the club on their own for 10 days and can only leave once a day to play or train.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with football authorities to achieve an outcome that balances the interests of both club and country while maintaining the highest levels of public health and safety.
“Our best defence against the virus is vaccination and these new measures will allow fully vaccinated players to fulfil their international duties in the safest, most practical way possible, while allowing them to train and play with their clubs as early as possible upon their return.”
Players not fully vaccinated will still be subject to 10 days quarantine in a government-allocated hotel should they travel to a country on the red list.
According to reports this week only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs have squads that are more than 50 percent fully vaccinated.
– ‘Stay here’ –
Premier League and English Football League clubs collectively refused to release players for international duty in red-list countries last month.
It initially appeared that stance would lead to players being barred from representing their clubs in the five days after the end of the international break.
However, the request from a number of football associations was dropped after what FIFA described as “positive signals and constructive dialogue” with the British Government.
Brazil has already issued call-ups to eight Premier League players, including Liverpool trio Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho.
But Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp criticised the plans which could see players separated from their families for up to three weeks.
“That would mean the players go for 10-12 days with their national teams. Then another 10 days away from their families into quarantine. That’s 22 days and two weeks later there is another international break,” said Klopp.
“It is not okay we just move responsibility to the players. If you are ready to do that then ok, if not then stay here.”
Klopp added that Senegalese forward Sadio Mane and Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas, who is due to travel to Georgia, would also be affected.
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith said that Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez and Marvelous Nakamba of Zimbabwe were set to travel for international duty.
Villa reached an agreement to release Martinez and Emiliano Buendia for duty with Argentina last month.
The pair trained in Croatia, a green-list country, before returning to the UK after the last window to avoid having to stay in a quarantine hotel.
However, their presence and Tottenham duo Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso led to the postponement of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier in Brazil.
Health officials in Sao Paulo came onto the pitch accusing the quartet of breaking Brazilian quarantine rules for not declaring they had spent time in the UK in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the country.
The circumstances around that match are now the subject of a FIFA disciplinary investigation.
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