Red list chaos: Tottenham and Aston Villa players jet off to Argentina and top-flight clubs may now lose Brazil stars amid the threat of FIFA sanctions over quarantine demands
- Brazil are trying to renegotiate the release of their stars for international fixtures
- Premier League clubs met and agreed last week to stop top stars from travelling
- Spurs and Aston Villa have struck deals with Argentina and others could follow
The Premier League’s red-list pact was plunged into chaos on Monday night with Brazil trying to renegotiate the release of their stars and FIFA poised with the threat of sanctions.
Top-flight clubs met and agreed last week to stop their stars reporting for international duty in countries on the UK’s travel red list because of the requirement for 10 days of quarantine in a Government hotel on their return.
Tottenham and Aston Villa, however, have struck deals with Argentina to allow four players — Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia of Villa and Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso of Tottenham — to feature in two World Cup qualifiers in Venezuela and Brazil, both on the red list.
The Premier League’s red list pact has been plunged into chaos – with Argentina star including Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso (L) and Cristian Romero (R) heading to international duty
Richarlison has appeared to voice his disapproval on Instagram in the row over internationals
Romero posted a photograph on social media of the four smiling on a private plane on the way to South America.
Spurs centre back Davinson Sanchez is also understood to be reporting for duty with Colombia, also on the red list.
But it is the release of the Argentina quartet that has sparked fury in Brazil, because head coach Tite named nine Premier League stars from six different clubs in his original squad.
On Friday, having been told they would not be released, Tite selected nine replacements only to discover, 48 hours later, that Argentina, their fierce rivals and opponents in Sao Paulo on Sunday, would be at full-strength, including those in defiance of the Premier League ban.
On Tuesday night the Brazilians were trying to prise some of their original first-choice players out of their clubs, although with little optimism.
Fellow Premier League star Roberto Firmino (R) is also likely to be affected by the ongoing row
Thiago Silva, of Chelsea, posted a glum selfie on Instagram together with a photo of tied hands and a comment: ‘Do I have to say something?’ while Richarlison posted an image of himself in action for Brazil with the caption @everton.
FIFA are watching the developments. As football’s governing body, they have the power to impose a five-day ban on players not released when called to represent their countries in official matches, like these.
Such a sanction would rule the nine players out of the first Premier League game following the international break: Fabinho, Alisson and Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, Fred of Manchester United, Gabriel Jesus and Ederson of Manchester City, Silva, Everton’s Richarlison and Raphinha of Leeds.
It is a delicate balance for the clubs. Even with a FIFA ban, they may decide it is the lesser of two evils not to release their players. At least they can train, prepare with team-mates and maintain fitness, rather than train alone in a Government quarantine hotel.
FIFA’s potential bans over unreleased players could be a worry for Alisson (L) and Jurgen Klopp
Reports in Argentina said the four Premier League players could fly home via Croatia to train through the quarantine period and avoid 10 days of isolation in a hotel and minimise the impact of their absence.
Repercussions are set to rumble on with some Premier League clubs baffled about why, after reaching a ‘unanimous’ decision, others went away and struck deals with their players to play.
The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, may want to know, too, having been asked to make a rare intervention into international matters and put his name to a statement.
Aston Villa appear to have been first to yield, closely followed by Spurs, with boss Nuno Espirito Santo claiming he could not deny players the chance to represent their countries in the absence of more solid support from authorities such as FIFA or the Government
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