The next world cup qualifiers which are scheduled later this month would present a new stage of feud between the nations and the clubs’ players. One thing, it is surely due to none but the COVID-19, which leads to the travel restrictions to some countries plus the quarantine policy. Another thing is partly because of FIFA new rule regarding such issue, which enables the clubs to ban their players flying home for taking part in their national teams’ matches in World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, which is set to take place at the end of the match, should there be a regulation for at least 5-day quarantine upon their return.
The first party who raises this issue as early as this week is the Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp. He clearly refused to release their key players from South America anf Portugal, two regions which are still enlisted as ‘the red zone of coronavirus’ by UK government to play for their countries in the next qualifying fixtures simply because the rules allow it and the clubs pay their salary, not the players’ national federations. It means Allisson Brecker, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Diego Jota will have to be excluded from the call-ups. This is certainly a huge blow, especially for Brasil. Potentially, The Reds’ decision will be followed by other Premier Leagues clubs and even other countries such as Germany and possibly Spain too.
CONMEBOL definitely is the one which suffers the most since more than half of their members’ key players mostly are the vital figures in the various clubs from European major leagues. Regarding this crucial issue, the South American football governing body is set to discuss further for the solution with FIFA.
There have been three possible suggested solution which CONMEBOL could do to keep their upcoming qualifying fixtures going. First, moving the games across the continent to European soil. Portugal has decided to move the qualifier match against Azerbaijan to Turin, Italy. It should ease their players to be able to play without being quarantined on their return. Unfortunately, most CONMEBOL members object this idea as they will be losing the home advantage. The second one is postponing the games after the European leagues are completed. This will be raising another issue as they will be holding Copa America in June and July, plus the on-schedule two qualifier matches before the tournament. The last option seems to be the most plausible one, which is to keep the fixtures on schedule but without any European-based players. The CONMEBOL members could name the squad based on the players in South America and North America leagues. So far Argentina has been ready to accept such facts and prepare their domestic-based new squad ahead of the games. Nevertheless, the final decision will still be on CONMEBOL’s hand.