FIFA to go to war with clubs as players will be ordered to report for international duty

The coronavirus crisis presents a significant concern for players travelling around the world, particularly to South America

4:00am on Sunday 4th October 2020
Martin Macdonald

FIFA are set to order clubs to release their players for International duty for the upcoming matches in October, including World Cup qualifiers and Nations League fixtures.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, various restrictions have been placed on travel around the world, with some countries only implementing essential travel over the past six months.

Football has been exempt due to players being tested regularly at club level, but a recent spike in South America in particular presents grave concerns for players who will be travelling to the continent for the qualifiers set to take place next month.

It is not only the health concerns which present a problem for clubs, but also the fact that players will be forced to quarantine upon their return, which could see them miss key matches.

FootballCritic wrote recently about how Lionel Messi could potentially miss the Clasico versus Real Madrid should he be called up for international duty with Argentina.

FIFA and other club football authorities have been locked in talks to find a compromise, but with none found, they are set to order clubs to release players to their national teams in October.

One change to the usual rules will see players allowed to miss friendly matches, but for upcoming competitive matches, like World Cup qualifiers in South America or Nations League matches in Europe, the same rules apply as before and players will have to respond for duty if not injured or suspended.

Elite clubs around Europe have regularly clashed with International teams due to the release of their players, and should they refuse to report for national team duty, they could be subjected to a ban at club level, while their club could also be fined.

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, the general secretary of FIFPro, a global players union, says players are being put in an impossible position.

“The reality is we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the prospect that a player could be sanctioned for taking a decision based on his consideration of what is safe for them is completely wrong," he said.


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