Premier League clubs will be allowed to field their Brazil players this weekend after the country’s football confederation dropped its demands for FIFA to enforce rules relating to their non-appearance for international duty.
The international governing body has said Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay have agreed to waive the rule preventing players from playing for five days if they fail to report for international duty following extensive talks between FIFA and the respective associations.
FIFA has also acknowledged “constructive dialogue” with the UK Government – after sending a joint letter with the Football Association and the Premier League to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday – aimed at preventing a repeat of the row which has surrounded the issue this month ahead of October’s window.
A statement from FIFA said: “Based on positive signals and constructive dialogue FIFA has received from the UK Government towards the international match window in October, recognising that players have no control over the extreme situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and sanitary restrictions currently imposed and, as a sign of good faith, goodwill and cooperation, the member associations of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay, in close consultation with FIFA, have taken the decision to withdraw their complaints in relation to the England-based players, and players bound to play in England, who were not released for the recent international matches.
“On 8 September 2021, the FIFA president, the FA interim chair and Premier League chair sent a joint letter to the UK Prime Minister. The UK Government is now open to find a reasonable solution with the three organisations, who are working closely together in a spirit of mutual understanding, in the interests of everyone.”
Premier League clubs made a collective decision not to release players if it meant them travelling to red-list countries as they would face 10 days of quarantine on their return.
Premier League bosses reacted angrily to the situation as it continued to develop on Friday, as they remained unsure whether they would be able to field some of their biggest names in the weekend’s fixtures.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who faced losing midfielder Fred for Saturday’s match against Newcastle, called it a “farce” and “a lose, lose, lose situation for everyone – national teams, players, clubs”.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who could have been without Gabriel Jesus and goalkeeper Ederson for their game at Leicester, and Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who was set to be missing Thiago Silva against Aston Villa, echoed Solskjaer’s sentiments.
Guardiola described the situation, which came after Brazil’s clash with Argentina was abandoned after health officials invaded the pitch, as “crazy”.
Tuchel added: “It makes no sense from which side you look at it. Does it make sense for Brazil? No. Does it make sense for us? No.”
Liverpool could have been without Alisson and Fabinho against Leeds, who faced missing Raphinha. However, Everton were expecting to be able to field Richarlison because the Brazilian federation had not complained specifically about his absence.
Paraguay and Mexico were earlier believed to have withdrawn similar complaints, freeing Wolves forward Raul Jimenez and Newcastle midfielder Miguel Almiron respectively.
Clubs will hope the ongoing dialogue with the UK Government will make life easier next month with Newcastle boss Steve Bruce having called for help from ministers.
He said: “It is what it is, but it’s been even more difficult this time, especially with the South Americans involved going to countries which are red-listed.
“Maybe the Government has to get involved the next time.”
Ironically the Argentina players who did travel to the aborted match will not be able to play, with Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia, and Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso, forced to quarantine in Croatia.
“It was a no-win situation all round,” said Villa boss Dean Smith. “Each club had to come up with the best solution for themselves. We were in between a rock and a hard place.”