In the ongoing saga regarding players traveling to their national teams during a pandemic, it looks FIFA might be following through on their treats of charging fines to clubs that refuse to release their players for World Cup qualifiers.
First, Liverpool refused to release Mohamed Salah for Egypt’s World Cup Qualifiers. The rest of the league joined the effort, refusing to release 60 other players as well that would be affected by the UK’s current restrictions for so called “red list” countries - that would require those players to quarantine for ten days upon their return to the United Kingdom. T
This also includes Liverpool’s Brazilian trio Allisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, and Fabinho Tavares.
When the Premier League announced the protections for the players, FIFA fought back by threatening fines to the clubs that wouldn’t release their players at the behest of those football associations that would be missing those talents. The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Mexico, Paraguay, and Chile are all asking for sanctions against Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, Watford, and Wolverhampton Wanderers for not releasing their players.
As of Thursday, Brazil hadn’t requested the same type of treatment for missing out on their Reds, and the other Brazilian players throughout the league. That doesn’t mean that Liverpool are in the clear, though, as other reports state that the Brazilian Football Confederation ‘will carry out’ the intention to see clubs punished for preventing players from representing the nation this month. That punishment could include keeping the clubs with Brazilian players from fielding those players for 5 days following the international break.
Liverpool have the chance to reach an agreement with the Brazilian Confederation that might allow them to bypass these sanctions as well, but that has yet to be seen. Firmino might even be exempt from these sanctions after sustaining a hamstring injury against Chelsea that might keep him from playing for Brazil anyway.
The clubs themselves were left with little choice when it came to protecting their players and protecting themselves when the UK government refused to grant an exemption from their own travel restrictions for these players.
As the Echo reported, there have been quite a few work-arounds proposed by the Premier League in general, even offering St. George’s Park for those players to train at as opposed to sitting in quarantined rooms without training for ten days.
FIFA, of course, have chosen violence and to be the most difficult footballing body out there by refusing to bend the rules during a global pandemic. Definitely something we’ll be keeping an eye on because they’re frustrating.