On the next day, in the Premier League, several stars will not be observed due to the sanction that FIFA will impose on clubs that did not lend to their players
It would have been wise to check passenger lists on flights from Europe to South America before trying to pick a favorite from Conmebol’s three World Cup knockout matches.
Paraguay has missed Miguel Almirón of Newcastle, its main star; Chile was left without Ben Brereton Díaz of Blackburn Rovers, the young forward who made such a positive impression at the Copa América, and Mexico was unable to have Raul Jiménez. These and other England players are caught in the middle of an ugly tug of war between their clubs and national teams, in a situation where it is not easy to identify the good guys.
Brazil was left without its nine Premier League players: Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (Liverpool); Ederson, Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City); Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Fred (Manchester United); Richarlison (Everton); and Raphinha (Leeds United).
According to various reports, FIFA would sanction all clubs that did not lend their players for international commitments and will not be able to count on them for the next day of the Premier League Liverpool being the most affected by not being able to have at their disposal the Egyptian Mohamed Salah, who was also banned by the Reds from joining the ranks of their selection. The next game for the Anfield team is against Leeds and they will then face AC Milan for the opening date of the Champions League.
For its part, Argentina managed to bring in four players: it made a deal with Aston Villa to get Emiliano Martínez and Emiliano Buendia for two of the three games, and sources told ESPN that the Argentines who play for Tottenham, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso will be fined by their club for making the trip without their consent – after what happened last Sunday in the Brazil vs. Argentina, maybe they wished they had stayed in England.
Many European clubs were reluctant to loan players for this controversial FIFA Date triple matchday: an additional match was added to the schedule, meaning the games end on Thursday night, two days later than usual.
There is an additional problem in the UK given the mandatory 10-day quarantine for those arriving from the so-called ‘red list’ countries (which are perceived as having a high risk of COVID-19 transmission). The problem here, when it comes to the clubs, is not just that the players will be in quarantine, but that those days would be spent in a hotel room, leading to an inevitable loss of fitness.
This has been reciprocal in Brazil. The four Argentine players serving in the Premier League were deemed to have failed the quarantine requirement for people who were in the UK for the last 14 days, leading to the ridiculous scenes in Sao Paulo on Sunday when the match was interrupted at minute six by officials of the Brazilian health authority demanding the departure of said players.
FIFA now has the difficult task of deciding what to do with this match. The South American soccer authorities were happy to pass the ball to FIFA. The ideal scenario would be to reschedule the game, but this meets the key problem behind the whole mess. When? There are no dates available. As soon as the decision to go ahead with the America’s Cup was made about three months ago, the continent had run out of room for error and with plenty of potential for schedule conflict.
What happened in Sao Paulo is unlikely to be the result of some intricate conspiracy. It is much more likely that it was the result of a series of factors that combined: bureaucratic complications, negligence, poor communication, incompetence, arrogance, deception, overzealousness, and poor common sense. The Sao Paulo farce will make European clubs even more cautious about releasing their players for next month’s FIFA date. There is an urgent need to involve all parties at the negotiating table and try to find a solution.