SAmerica worried as European clubs won’t release players


South America’s governing soccer body plans to hold talks with FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Saturday about European clubs refusing to release players for international duty.

CONMEBOL said on Friday that FIFA was “looking for a solution to the stalemate” as Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola became the latest manager to reveal he won’t let his players travel to international matches this month if they have to quarantine on their return.

“They are not going to fly, for sure,” Guardiola said. “It makes no sense when players go to the national team and come back and (for) 10 days cannot play.”

Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp made similar statements this week.

Under current coronavirus guidelines, arrivals from countries that Britain regards as high risk are subject to 10 days of hotel confinement. All of South America is on the so-called “red list.”

FIFA has extended an easing of its rules that frees clubs during the pandemic from obligations to release players to national teams. The decision came with 135 national teams set to play World Cup qualifying games in March, and 48 more playing African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The scheduled games involve more than 3,000 players — many with clubs in Europe — set to fly around the world to join national teams.

On Friday, Infantino appealed to clubs to let players go “provided health is not put in danger” because the national associations rely on TV revenue from qualifiers.

“Whenever it is possible then, these players taking all the necessary precautions and protocols should be obviously allowed to travel safely, as safely as possible,” he said.

Also, Colombia’s health minister said it was unlikely the country will reopen its borders to flights coming from Brazil, which is experiencing a second wave of the virus. Colombia is scheduled to host Brazil in a World Cup qualifier on March 26 in Barranquilla.

“To open that possibility (of a flight from Brazil) would be very worrying,” minister Fernando Ruiz Gómez said.

Brazilian media has reported national coach Tite is considering a list that includes only players who do not need to return to Europe for the two rounds of World Cup qualifying this month, against Colombia and Argentina.


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