European clubs are seeking urgent talks with FIFA after raising concerns about player safety at next month’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The emergence of the omicron variant of Covid-19 has led countries around the world to reimpose travel restrictions and bans and could lead to a new dispute over the player’s launch of international service next month.
The global public health situation looks set to be a major challenge ahead of the Africa Finals in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6 and international windows elsewhere from January 24 through early February.
The European Club Association (ECA) Board of Directors has expressed its “deep concern” about the safety and well-being of players during international matches early next year, “particularly in light of the deteriorating situation in football, public health and the serious challenges faced during the recent international windows”.
The ECA statement added: “The Board of Directors has decided to deal urgently with FIFA to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to protect the players and the interests of the club as the health situation continues to deteriorate alarmingly.”
It is believed that the Egyptian Chefs Association is striving to avoid a repeat of the problems surrounding the international window in September.
At the time, Premier League clubs refused to release the alternate players in the red list countries, because at that time they would be required to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days upon their return to the UK.
Four Argentina internationals based in England reported for their country, but their presence led to the World Cup qualifier match against Brazil being abandoned on 5 September.
Brazilian health officials said the four – Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Emiliano Buendia and Tottenham players Giovanni Lo Celso and Christian Romero – had violated local quarantine rules, with the UK placed on Brazil’s red list. The pair traveled from Villa with the permission of their club, and the Spurs duo did not.
Four countries (Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay) initially asked FIFA to ban players who had been refused call-up from playing for their clubs for five days after the suspension, but they eventually dropped the request.
For the October window, a new agreement has been reached in which fully vaccinated players can travel for international service to the Red List countries on the basis of a 10-day quarantine at the club’s facility, leaving isolation only for training and playing.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp criticized the deal, saying it was “not a real solution”. The managing director of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Mahita Mulango, has called for the quarantine period to be halved to five days.
The European Club Association’s (ECA) board said opposition to FIFA’s proposals to host the World Cup for two years was “unanimous”, a position representing more than 240 clubs across the continent that provided three-quarters of all players present at the last game of the World Cup in Russia 2018.
He said the new international match calendar for men’s and women’s football should ensure the “correct balance” between the club and the international game, and provide the necessary guarantees and guarantees for players who have been “neglected” in the current proposals, and benefit from them. The Football Club and the Egyptian Chefs Association vote on any decision that is made.
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