Great Britain

Premier League clubs face showdown with Brazil and Argentina over Covid rules ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Another set of FIFA dates is coming, and problems between South American national teams and English clubs are once more on the horizon.

Argentina have yet to announce their squad for the three World Cup qualifiers between 7th and 14th October.

But it seems certain that the Tottenham pair of Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso will be called up, along with Aston Villa keeper Emanuel Martinez and probably his club mate Emanuel Buendia too.

Paraguay have named Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron, Venezuela are desperate for the return of Salomon Rondon of Everton and Uruguay hope to welcome back Edinson Cavani.

The heart of the matter, though, is in Brazil, for two reasons. First there are the numbers. For the last FIFA dates Brazil called up - and had to do without - nine Premier League players.

Of those, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino have been forced out by injury. But with Daniel Alves without a club, Tottenham right back Emerson Royal has been included.

So, unless there are late injuries, Brazil will expect eight of their players to make their way back from England after the weekend’s fixtures.

Will they have to undergo quarantine in Brazil? This was the issue that transformed the recent Brazil v Argentina game into a farce.

With just five minutes gone, Brazilian sanitary officials wandered on to the field to demand the immediate deportation of Argentina’s Premier League stars.

This would not have happened had Argentina applied for a waiver before arriving in Brazil.

Based on the sanitary ‘bubble’ in which the players spend their time while on international duty, the Brazilian authorities are prepared to give players in this situation exceptional status.

But will the UK government do the same? This now becomes the key question.

Coach Tite called up the Brazil squad in Rio de Janeiro last Friday. In the press conference, the inclusion of the Premier League eight was an obvious focus of attention.

The team’s administrative matters are handled by Juninho, the former Middlesbrough attacking midfielder.

He said that talks are going on involving FIFA and the UK authorities, and that some progress is expected early this week.

This can only mean one thing. South American countries continue on the UK’s Red List - indeed, the UK does not recognise the vaccination status of those who have been jabbed in the continent.

In the short term, then, flexibility is clearly not going to be shown to ordinary citizens.

The only hope is that the players will be granted some sort of special status, and that football will be given a waiver. Brazil are clearly expecting that this will happen.

They declined to push the button with FIFA that would have forced the players to miss matches for their clubs in punishment for not being released for international duty in September- and this was obviously in exchange for co-operation with the FIFA dates of October, November, January and March.

But if the quarantine restrictions in England remain, will the clubs still be happy to release their players? And if the restrictions are taken away, would public opinion accept that footballers should be granted special status?

These are important questions. Much will depend on the answers.

Brazil stars like Alisson and Fred BANNED for Premier League weekend games after being blocked from international duty

Football news:

The grandstand collapsed under Vitesse's fans: they celebrated a guest victory with the players and flew down
Mourinho on Juve - Roma: Some have won 9 out of 10 championships, the second - 0 out of 10. But during the game you can forget about it
Gary Neville: Conte is a great coach, but Manchester United is not suitable
Rice is Man City's priority target. The West Ham midfielder is seen as a replacement for Fernandinho
Salernitana fired Castori and appointed Colantuono as coach. She is the 20th after 8 rounds of Serie A
Do you remember how Mourinho trolled Juve fans, put his palm to his ear? He's in Turin for the first time since
The Tottenham and Newcastle game was Interrupted due to a fan's health problems. A defibrillator was needed