Leeds United among Premier League clubs to 'unanimously' agree not to release international players

Leeds United have joined the rest of the Premier League in agreeing 'unanimously' not to release players for international fixtures played in red-list countries next month.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 7:04 pm
Leeds United winger Raphinha. Pic: Getty

Five of Marcelo Bielsa's squad have been called up for their nations so far ahead of the first international break of the campaign in early September.

Whites captain Liam Cooper will head away with Scotland while Stuart Dallas (Northern Ireland) and Tyler Roberts (Wales) have also been called up.

Issues have arisen, though, for Leeds wingers Raphinha and Helder Costa with Brazil and Angola remaining on the UK's red list amid Covid restrictions.

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Raphinha earned a first call-up for the Seleção earlier this month while Costa has switched allegiance from Portugal to Angola.

United have today joined the rest of the top flight in saying they will not release any players who are due to play in countries deemed unsafe for international travel.

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

"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.

"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.'

"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."