Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea will be able to field their South American and Mexican international players in this weekend’s fixtures, Goal can confirm.
Following extensive talks with FIFA, the Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Mexico Football Associations have all agreed to waive their automatic five-day restriction, which would have prevented a number of stars from featuring in the latest round of domestic matches.
It means the likes of Liverpool duo Fabinho and Alisson Becker, Manchester City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Manchester United midfielder Fred and Chelsea defender Thiago Silva are all free to play.
What has FIFA said?
FIFA confirmed that the complaints have been withdrawn after discussing the issue with the UK government.
A statement read: "Based on positive signals and constructive dialogue FIFA has received from the UK government towards the international match window in October, recognising that players have no control over the extreme situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and sanitary restrictions currently imposed and, as a sign of good faith, goodwill and cooperation, the member associations of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay, in close consultation with FIFA, have taken the decision to withdraw their complaints in relation to the England-based players, and players bound to play in England, who were not released for the recent international matches.
"On 8 September 2021, the FIFA President, The FA Interim Chair and Premier League Chair sent a joint letter to the UK Prime Minister. The UK government is now open to find a reasonable solution with the three organisations, who are working closely together in a spirit of mutual understanding, in the interests of everyone."
What was the row?
The dispute had erupted after Premier League clubs had decided unanimously to stop players from appearing for their country in the latest round of international fixtures if it meant travel to a red-list country, which would require a 10-day period of quarantine upon their return.
FIFA had unsuccessfully lobbied the UK government to allow quarantine exemptions for players returning from international duty, leading the Brazilian, Paraguayan, Chilean and Mexican federations to enforce the ‘five-day rule’, a FIFA directive which was designed to protect international teams from unnecessary, club-influenced withdrawals.
That would have meant the above players, as well as Leeds winger Raphinha, Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, Watford's Francisco Sierralta, Newcastle star Miguel Almiron and the Blackburn striker Ben Brereton would all have been unavailable for a five-day period following the conclusion of the international fixtures.
In this instance, that period would have covered September 10-14 and would have ruled both Fred and Thiago Silva out of their respective clubs’ first Champions League group matches, as well as this weekend’s Premier League games.
A win for managers
The news will come as a significant boost to the leading Premier League managers, who had voiced their concerns over the issue during their Friday press conferences.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, whose side visit Leeds on Sunday, had accused the federations of “punishing players” and called for a resolution with two more rounds of international fixtures scheduled before the end of the year.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Klopp’s Manchester United counterpart, labelled it a “lose-lose situation” and “a farce”, while Pep Guardiola of Manchester City admitted he “did not understand the situation” and called upon FIFA to do the right thing and allow the players to play.
They have done that, meaning the only clubs without international players this weekend will be Tottenham and Aston Villa, whose Argentine internationals - Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero, Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez - are isolating having flown to Brazil, a red-list country, for the World Cup qualifier in Sao Paolo, a game which was eventually abandoned.