<
>

Premier League managers blast FIFA's Brazil players ban

play
Brazil players could potentially serve 5-day ban in Premier League (1:22)

Gabriele Marcotti explains why the Brazilian Football Federation is asking FIFA to prevent Premier League clubs from selecting Brazlian players for 5 days. (1:22)

Premier League managers including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel have united in dismay at FIFA's threat to ban Brazilian players from featuring for their clubs this weekend.

Eight players were denied the chance to represent Brazil this month after the Premier League adopted a stance supported by all 20 clubs that players would not be released if they were travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 red list.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Leeds have subsequently been told they would not be able to select those players this weekend after the Brazilian Football Association lobbied FIFA to invoke a rule preventing clubs from fielding unreleased players in domestic matches for five days from Sept. 10 to Sept. 14.

- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
- Don't have ESPN? Get instant access

However, the clubs involved are arguing the individuals would have had to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days as per government guidelines and therefore had to protect their players.

Talks between FIFA and the clubs were ongoing on Friday and with the outcome unclear at the time, several managers faced the media ahead of their respective weekend matches.

United boss Solskjaer, who is waiting to hear on the availability of midfielder Fred, said: "It's a lose-lose situation. It's been a farce, really.

"The players want to play but we all know what kind of situation we find ourselves in the last year and a half with the pandemic, to limit the spread of the virus, we've worked really hard to try and find a way, private jets, there are ways of getting them in and out but all of the decisions have gone against the players.

"They want to play for national teams and clubs but they are not allowed. We're disappointed with the whole thing, common sense might not be common anymore. Fingers crossed, some sense comes into people's minds."

Guardiola is hopeful of having Ederson and Gabriel Jesus cleared to play against Leicester City.

If Ederson is unavailable, City will likely field Scott Carson for what would only be his second appearance for the club as second-choice goalkeeper Zack Steffen tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with the United States.

"Right now at 1.35 p.m. [BST] it's not clear, hopefully they can play. We wait to see tomorrow if there is any good news. We are going to wait to see if they can play or not," he said.

"The problem is I don't understand. I don't know what we could do. It's an honour for our players to go to national teams, no problem at all.

"We allow them to play: Liverpool, United, Chelsea, Arsenal. But they have to travel and they are not allowed. Ten days in a hotel if they come from Brazil.

"They miss the Premier League, Champions League, Premier League. We wait and hope FIFA will make a statement. Hopefully they'll allow it."

Liverpool could be the hardest hit given Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino may all be forced to sit out Sunday's trip to Leeds.

"I can say what I know: I don't know in the moment. We will see, there are meetings going on," manager Jurgen Klopp said. "We all know we are in the middle of a pandemic, which is difficult for all parts of life and for football it was difficult as well.

"We have a few more games to play than we have to play usually internationally. We had a summer break where all of a sudden somebody organised again a Copa America, where they could have played the games, for example, without playing a Copa America, which they had a year before.

"But people decide without us these kind of things. OK, nobody cares, that's how it is."

Tuchel is waiting on Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck to conclude negotiations, with Thiago Silva's involvement in their home game against Aston Villa in the balance.

The Chelsea boss suggested international fixtures could be moved to avoid a similar situation with another international break in October.

"If it ends up in a situation where the players cannot play for the national team again and then should be maybe suspended in their league, that does not work," he said. "It makes no sense not for the fans, not for football, not for the national team and not for the clubs. I don't know.

"Maybe personally, it could be a solution that we move the games from the red-list countries to green-listed countries like we did with the UEFA Champions League. We played in Romania, we played in Sevilla, so this was a solution where games could be played.

"Maybe we can find a solution like this. Right now, Thiago is not out. He is not officially out. The chairman is still in negotiations, I am waiting for the final decision."

Leeds United's Raphinha is the only other player involved as Everton came to an agreement with Richarlison, having released the forward for both the Copa America and the Brazil team at the Tokyo Olympics.

"I think we are in a much better position than anyone because when we allowed him to go to the Olympic Games we were in contact with them [Brazilian FA]," Everton manager Rafael Benitez. "We have a very good relationship with them and they said they understand and Richarlison was not an issue."

Brazil hosted Argentina during the break in a match that was called off just a few minutes into the first half after health officials ran onto the pitch believing four visiting players had not following the country's COVID-19 protocols upon arrival.

Aston Villa duo Emi Buendia and Emiliano Martinez along with Tottenham's Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso were subsequently deported.

Spurs are expected to fine Romeo and Lo Celso for travelling without permission.

"Every time that an international break comes on it's always a concern for us, to manage as a group because you cannot control," Spurs head coach Nuno Espirito Santo said.

"There is nothing much more that I can say that will avoid or find a solution for this problem. With FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League, they know that we have a big, big issue among the clubs, so I hope they solve it."