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InternationalSports

Premier League clubs to cling to players

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Premier League sides are among leading European clubs set to prevent players from going to red-list countries for September’s international break.

Unless quarantine exemptions are made, players would be forced to miss several domestic league matches because of the 10-day isolation period required on return to the United Kingdom (UK).

The Football Association and Premier League are in talks with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) over a relaxation of UK rules. Similar problems are thought to confront clubs across Europe.

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Liverpool are among the clubs refusing to release players for international duty.

Four Reds players are affected —Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Brazil trio Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino— because their home nations are on the UK government’s red list.

The Egyptian Football Association said on its website that Liverpool had apologised for not allowing Salah to join up with the national team.

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Its statement read: “The Egyptian Football Association has received a letter from Liverpool apologising for the inability of its player, Mohamed Salah, to join the national team in its next camp, which includes facing Angola in Cairo and Gabon in Franceville during the first and second rounds of the African continent’s qualifiers for the World Cup.”

However, Liverpool have confirmed that they are happy for Salah to play in the away fixture against Gabon because of not having to enter a red-list country.

The key issue for Liverpool and other Premier League clubs is the absence of an exemption to the existing UK quarantine rules. Were there to be one, it is understood players would be released.

In an additional headache for some Premier League clubs, Fifa recently extended the September and October international windows by two days in South America to enable countries to catch up on World Cup qualifiers that were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body also said the two-day extension ensured “sufficient rest and preparation time between matches”.

It means matches can now be played on Thursday, September 9 and Thursday, October 14, with players involved being released for 11 days.—BBC

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