Soccer - Brazil expects agreement with Premier League clubs to release players

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil coach Tite called up eight England-based players for October’s World Cup qualifiers on Friday in expectation that an agreement will be reached with the Premier League to release them for transatlantic travel.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Brazil v Peru - Arena Pernambuco, Sao Lourenco da Mata, Brazil - September 9, 2021 Brazil coach Tite REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho, Gabriel Jesus and Ederson of Manchester City, Emerson Royal of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Fred of Manchester United and Raphinha of Leeds United were included in the Brazil squad for games against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay.

Brazil is on England’s COVID-19 red list, meaning visitors must quarantine for 14 days after returning from South America. Those arriving in Brazil from England are also required to quarantine for two weeks.

Friday’s announcement comes just weeks after Brazil were forced to leave out their England-based player for September qualifiers after Premier League clubs refused to release them due to the fact they would have to quarantine on their return.

The Brazil v Argentina match was halted in farcical fashion just five minutes after kickoff when Brazilian health officials entered the pitch to stop Argentina’s England-based players from playing because they had not completed the required quarantine on arrival in Sao Paulo.

The match was abandoned and FIFA has yet to rule on when or even if it will be replayed.

Juninho Paulista, the national team coordinator, gave no details but said the eight Premier League players were included due to a belief an accord will be reached next week.

“We’ve had lots of positive meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government, and we trust that there will be a positive solution next week,” he said.

“That is why we have called them up.”

The Brazilian football federation will have to reach a separate agreement with the country’s health authority to exempt England-based players from quarantine on their arrival.

The confusion over who will be allowed to travel has left coaches in the dark.

“I don’t know (if there’s an agreement),” Man City coach Pep Guardiola said on Friday. “I don’t know what is going to happen, the pandemic is still there.”

“Hopefully the authorities in Brazil and here have a solution that is perfect for both sides. They need to sit and find a solution for the players and clubs and federations.”

Brazil play Venezuela in Caracas on Oct. 7, then go to Barranquilla to play Colombia on Oct. 10 before rounding off their three ties at home to Uruguay on Oct. 14.

Brazil have won all eight of their qualifiers so far and are six points clear of Argentina at the top of the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022.

The top four teams qualify automatically and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Reporting by Andrew Downie, additional reporting by Rohith Nair; Editing by Toby Davis