Rules 'to be relaxed' for red list Premier League stars

Premier League stars heading to red list nations ‘will only face a five-day Covid-19 quarantine at their clubs rather than 10 days in a hotel’ upon their return as rules are relaxed

  • Premier League clubs have reportedly seen plans to relax red-list quarantines
  • Players returning from high Covid risk nations faced a 10-day hotel quarantine
  • But Government proposal relaxes this to five days and within the team bubble
  • New rules could come into effect for October’s internationals if approved
  • Top-flight clubs sought to ban players going to red-list countries this month
  • Some Argentine and Colombian players defied clubs and travelled anyway 

Premier League players returning from red-list countries will reportedly receive special treatment and have their Covid-19 quarantines relaxed under new Government plans.

Any players coming back from playing in high Covid risk nations would be able to complete a five-day quarantine within their club bubble rather than a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine.

The UK’s Covid rules for foreign travel state that anyone coming into the country who has been in a red-list country in the 10 previous days must quarantine for 10 full days in an approved hotel and take tests on day two and day eight. It still applies to those double vaccinated.

They could be fined £10,000 for non-compliance but returning footballers could be about to receive an exemption. 

It is an attempt to avoid the confusion during the last internationals earlier this month when some players defied their clubs by travelling to South America to represent their countries in World Cup qualifiers.

Brazilian players such as Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (left) and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus (right) could find it easier to play for their countries next month

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah could be able to play for Egypt against with minimal quarantine 

The Athletic report the new plans have been drawn up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and have been circulated to the 20 Premier League clubs.

If agreed, they could come into effect ahead of October’s international double-header with minimal delay in the players returning to domestic action.

Earlier this month, Premier League clubs refused to release any of their players bound for red-list countries because the 10-day hotel quarantine afterwards would keep them out of too many games. 

National associations pushed back by filing complaints with FIFA and asking world football’s governing body to enforce its rules over non-appearance for international duty.

Firmino was among the Premier League players almost banned for five days by FIFA

FIFA duly imposed five-day ‘bans’ on several players representing their clubs but this was ultimately waived in time for them to play in the first Premier League games after the internationals.

Manchester City’s Brazilian duo Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, their compatriots at Liverpool Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Manchester United’s Fred and Raphinha of Leeds United were affected.

However, the Argentine players of Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur – Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero, Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia – plus Colombia’s Davinson Sanchez travelled to South America anyway.

In a further twist, the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina on September 6 was abandoned just minutes after kick-off when Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of the English-based Argentine players.

The Brazilian health authorities said Martinez, Lo Celso, Romero and Buendia had to quarantine. The local rules state any visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days on arrival. 

Romero (top left), Lo Celso (top right), Emiliano Martinez (bottom left) and Emiliano Buendia (bottom right) are accused of breaking Brazil’s Covid-19 quarantine rules

The four English-based players all left the UK despite the Premier League stopping teams from playing in red-list countries 

Health authorities stormed the pitch in Brazil-Argentina to detain four Premier League players

The players had to return to Croatia to train before travelling on to England, meaning they missed their clubs’ first games back. 

African internationals such as Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were also prevented from travelling to red-list countries.

Countries that remain on the UK Government’s Covid red list include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. 

Talks began between DCMS, the Premier League and the Football Association to find a solution for the October and November international games and now those plans have been circulated.

Unlike in Europe, the South American nations will play three qualifiers in October meaning that even a five-day quarantine is likely to rule several players out of their next club match.

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