Premier League won't release players to 'red-listed' countries for World Cup qualifying

Premier League clubs will not release players called up for international duty if they are playing matches in a country on the UK's coronavirus "red list" to prevent them from having to quarantine on their return to England, the league said on Tuesday after a unanimous vote by member clubs.

"Extensive discussions have taken place with both the FA and the government to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red-list countries, no exemption has been granted," the league said in a statement.

- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
- Don't have ESPN? Get instant access

Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru are all on the British government's "red list" of countries that trigger a 10-day hotel quarantine on return.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "Premier League clubs have always supported their players' desires to represent their countries -- this is a matter of pride for all concerned. However, clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances.

"Quarantine requirements mean that players' welfare and fitness will be significantly impacted. We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions."

Later on Tuesday, LaLiga released a statement saying it too would support any Spanish club that did not want to release players to join national teams in areas that were seeing increased cases of the coronavirus.

European clubs have accused world body FIFA of abusing its regulatory function in this row over the extended release of players for the September and October qualifiers.

Premier League sides would be particularly hard hit by FIFA's decision to extend a mandatory release period from nine to 11 days to enable tripleheaders in South America and also by strict England's quarantine rules.

Liverpool have already refused to allow Mohamed Salah to travel to Africa for World Cup qualifiers with Egypt next month because he would be forced to quarantine on his return to England.

England's quarantine requirements could affect Liverpool's Brazilian trio of Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker and Fabinho, who have been called up for next month's qualifiers, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, who are part of Argentina's squad.

FIFA not only organizes the World Cup, which generates most of the governing body's revenue of $6 billion in the four-year cycle, but it also regulates the game globally and oversees the international calendar.

FIFA declined comment after Tuesday's statements from the FA and LaLiga but in a letter dated Aug. 23 and sent to the South American federation, FIFA president Gianni Infantino states the leagues and clubs could face sanctions if they don't allow the players to travel for the World Cup qualifiers.

"FIFA will proceed to reiterate to the member associations and affected clubs the regulations they are subject to comply and the consequences in case of any breach of the rules," reads the letter sent by Infantino to Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez.

The European Club Association (ECA) wrote to members, in a Q&A document reported by The Times newspaper and also seen by Reuters, saying FIFA had taken decisions unilaterally and "against the explicit objection of ECA and the rest of the stakeholders.

"ECA has firmly expressed its objection to FIFA's decision and has urged FIFA to review its position," it said.

"ECA will not accept that a governing body like FIFA abuses its regulatory function in order to place its commercial interests and those of its member associations above the physical wellbeing of players and legitimate sporting interests of clubs."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this story.