Fabinho and Firmino are set to miss out against Leeds United

It was announced today that FIFA have enforced a five day ban on the eight Brazilian players from the Premier League who didn’t travel for the World Cup qualifiers. This comes after the Brazilian FA lodged an official complaint to FIFA, and asked for the ban to be invoked. Liverpool’s Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino will therefore miss the Premier League trip to Leeds United.

Also, Leeds United’s Raphinha, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Manchester United’s Fred and Manchester City’s duo of Ederson and Gabriel Jesus will be affected, with the Chelsea and United contingent even missing the opening group game of the Champions League. It is a mess FIFA could do without, with further international breaks to come in October and November.

The Premier League clubs came to agreement with the FA and the European Club Association (ECA) to prevent their players from travelling to countries on the UK’s red list for Covid-19 restrictions. Upon return from such countries, the players would have had to isolate for ten days, seeing them miss four fixtures in Liverpool’s case.

FIFA tried to intervene by liasing with the UK government to grant exemptions. The government refused and as such, the clubs stuck to the agreement with the FA and ECA. The players stayed put and Brazil played without them. Ironically, anybody entering Brazil from the UK would have to isolate for twelve days due to covid-19 regulations in Brazil.

If the Premier League’s Brazilian contingent had travelled to their home country, it is likely the Brazilian government would have granted them exemption. As it turned out, the players didn’t report, and as such, the restrictions remained in place. Aston Villa’s Argentine players (Emiliano Buendia and Emi Martinez) however, convinced their club to allow them join up for international duty.

The Midlands club agreed to release them even if it meant they would miss Premier League games due to the isolation period. It all came to a head though, when Brazilian health authorities came unto the pitch during the Brazil versus Argentina match to forcibly remove the players who had flown into the country from the UK, as they did not fulfil the twelve day isolation requirement.

The game was suspended as a result and it caused embarrasment for all involved. It seems Brazil are just annoyed Argentina were able to get their Premier League talent on the pitch whilst they on the other hand, couldn’t. It’s all a bit vindictive on their part as they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Punishing the players for a decision they had nothing to do with is not the way to go.

Alisson Becker granted an interview before all this, saying he wanted to play for his country as well as his club. He expressed his pride at representing his country and bemoaned the idea of being punished for doing that. It is crazy to think that the players don’t have a say in all of this. They are the main stakeholders of this game, and at the end of the day, they are the ones affected most.

Alisson Becker spoke passionately before the international break

For the clubs, they are all united in fighting this ban. If the ban is upheld however, you can imagine it is a lesser of two evils. Lose a player for the international break and the risk of injury that surrounds that, followed by a ten day isolation period, or keep players at the club during the break and see them banned for a five day period? The Brazilian FA won’t win taking on the clubs, that’s for sure.

FIFA for what it’s worth, is said to be in discussion with all involved to find an amicable solution. If neither party is willing to back down, we will see an even messier affair in the ensuing international breaks, and at the end of it all, it is the players that lose out. One must wonder how long it will be till players unite and demand a seat at the table for discussions such as these. For now, the club vs country row will continue to rumble.


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