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Premier League issues statement regarding refusal to release 60 foreign players for September FIFA international break

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The Super Eagles may not be affected by the barrier put before Premier League players regarding the September international window when the World Cup qualifying matches will come alive in Africa.

Nigeria has not been named among the red flag countries being ravaged by Coronavirus. However, Egypt, being named, will miss the services of Mohamed Salah.

The full statement by the Premier League and the Premier League clubs runs thus:

Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-list countries next month.

The clubs’ decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window.

This follows FIFA’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.

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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.

If required to quarantine on return from red list countries, not only would players’ welfare and fitness be significantly impacted, but they would also be unavailable to prepare for and play in two Premier League match rounds, a UEFA club competition matchday and the third round of the EFL Cup.

This period takes into consideration 10 days of hotel quarantine on return to England but does not include any additional time that would be required for players to regain match fitness.

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.”

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Clubs also discussed their dissatisfaction with FIFA’s decision to extend CONMEBOL’s international window by two days in September and October from nine to 11 days.

This places additional international obligations on players from that region, to the detriment of their availability to represent their clubs.

FIFA was urged to work with all stakeholders to ensure an agreeable conclusion can be reached on the issue.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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