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International

Confusion Over Availability of SAmerican Players in EPL

September 10, 2021

Confusion reigned among English Premier League managers over the availability of their South American players who are under the threat of a five-day ban from FIFA for missing World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil triggered a FIFA regulation in a bid to prevent eight of its players from competing for their respective clubs in England's top flight this weekend. Those players were called up for World Cup qualifiers but didn't travel after Premier League teams objected to them going to South American nations which are red-listed by the British government because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other South American national teams who were without England-based players included Uruguay (Edinson Cavani), Chile (Francisco Sierralta) and Paraguay (Miguel Almiron).

The five-day restriction period would start immediately after the international window which, for South America, ended on Thursday. It could also take in Champions League games next week.

It was a hot topic in news conferences given by Premier League coaches on Friday, and there was a variety of answers.

For Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, Almiron is available to play against Manchester United on Saturday.

"A bit of common sense has prevailed," Bruce said, "and he's available for selection so we're extremely pleased."

Among the Brazilian players under threat of not playing in the Premier League this weekend are Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino at Liverpool; Ederson and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City; Thiago Silva at Chelsea; and Fred at Manchester United.

City manager Pep Guardiola, preparing for a game against Leicester on Saturday, said he was still waiting for a definitive comment from FIFA but added: "Right now, I'm thinking they (Jesus and Ederson) are going to play because we don't have any other instructions."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp sounded less certain about his trio of Brazilians, but that he also was still waiting on FIFA.

"I have no idea when I can expect a solution — we will see," Klopp said.

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called the situation involving Fred a "farce."

"Fingers crossed some sense will come into people's minds and we can use him," Solskjaer said.

The Premier League teams had said that if players went, they then would have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine upon their return and have little chance of training.

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