Premier League managers back decision not to release players for internationals in red-list countries

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are among four Liverpool players affected by the decision

Premier League managers have backed the clubs' decision not to release players for matches in red-list countries during September's international break.

Under current UK government rules, players would be forced to miss several games because of the 10-day isolation period required on return to the UK.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said it "made no sense" to release players.

"We pay the players, to go and play three games and then play Leicester [in the Premier League] is not possible."

He added: "They are isolated with no training for one week, 10 days, so it is no sense.

"We have to say again today what is the position of the club and the Premier League because it is not just Manchester City. It is a problem of the calendar and the schedule."

The Premier League and the Football Association held talks with the government about the possibility of granting players an exemption but failed to find a solution, with clubs "reluctantly but unanimously" deciding not to release players as a result.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the prospect of 10 days' quarantine for his players on their return would put their fitness at risk.

"When players go on international duty, for club managers it's not great but we still always do it, we never moan," he said. "In this case it is different because England has different rules.

"The rules in England are if you come back from a red-list country you have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel. Not a hotel of your choice, a hotel of somebody else's choice, next to the airport of wherever. And it's not even close to being a spa hotel. It's eating and waiting and sleeping.

"As the club we cannot do that, not just because we lose them for games but we also lose them for 10 days training. Ask any doctor or sports scientist, without any chance of moving you lose muscle. Then you start training again and it's a real risk"

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said it was a difficult situation for organisers, but that he did not think footballers should be exempt from the current rules.

"This pandemic has put us in a position where they'd have to quarantine in a government hotel and detrain," he said.

"The World Cup qualifiers have to be played at some time. Its difficult but I don't think you can make exceptions for football players. It's way above my pay grade."

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira added: "I think all the managers and all the clubs are waiting to see what the decision is. It will be difficult for us to allow our players to go to international duty if that country is in the red zone."

Premier League bosses were also unhappy with Fifa's decision to extend the September and October international windows by two days in South America to enable countries to catch up on World Cup qualifiers that were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It means matches can now be played on Thursday, 9 September and Thursday, 14 October, with players involved being released for 11 days.

Because of the time difference, players involved in those games may not return to their clubs until Saturday, 11 September, when eight Premier League matches are scheduled to take place.

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