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25 Aug, 2021 15:37

‘A matter of great urgency and importance’: FIFA boss Infantino petitions UK government to exempt players from red-list quarantine

‘A matter of great urgency and importance’: FIFA boss Infantino petitions UK government to exempt players from red-list quarantine

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has asked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow exemptions for Premier League players traveling to 'red-list' countries in upcoming World Cup Qualifiers in a bid to "protect sporting integrity".

The Premier League revealed on Tuesday that as many as 60 players from 19 different clubs in the English top flight were being blocked from traveling to represent their countries in vital qualifiers as clubs collectively refused to release players to play in so-called 'red-list' countries – locations designated as Covid-19 'hot spots'.

The statement said that clubs have "reluctantly but unanimously" opted to take the move amid fears that players would be forced to miss domestic games and training when they quarantine upon their return to the United Kingdom for ten days – which is mandated after visiting 'red-list' countries.

La Liga has since followed suit and announced that they are backing their clubs who take similar measures. 

But Infantino suggests that such moves undermine the integrity of international football, and has asked Boris Johnson to work with him to find a solution.

"We have faced global problems together in the past and must continue to do so in the future," wrote Infantino.

"The release of players in the upcoming international windows is a matter of great urgency and importance."

The FIFA president also asked for a "show of solidarity from every member association, every league and every club, to do what is both right and fair for the global game."

Among the high-profile players currently blocked from representing their countries are Manchester City's Brazilian duo of Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, as well as Liverpool's Fabinho, Alisson and Roberto Firmino.

Also on rt.com Premier League clubs ‘reluctantly but unanimously’ refuse to release international players to so-called Covid ‘red list’ countries

Manchester United's Uruguayan international striker Edinson Cavani was among the players who expressed their confusion with the mandate, responding online to a report with a series of question marks.

"Many of the best players in the world compete in leagues in England and Spain and we believe these countries also share the responsibility to preserve and protect the sporting integrity of competitions around the world," added Infantino.

"On the issue of quarantine restrictions in England, for players returning from red-list countries, I have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appealed for the necessary support, in particular, so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, which is one of the ultimate honours for a professional footballer."

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Infantino also suggested that the UK government adopt similar guidelines to those which were in place in the latter stages of Euro 2020, when the final three matches took place in London.

"Together, we have shown solidarity and unity in the fight against Covid-19," he concluded.

"Now I am urging everyone to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers."

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