CLUB AND COUNTRY VS COVID: HAS THE INTERNATIONAL BREAK UNNECESSARILY PUT PLAYERS AT RISK?
With the international break almost over, many will question if this time around clubs sending their players, has actually been worth it. Despite some historic victories, with Scotland’s qualification for the Euros the most notable, the break seems to have done more harm than good.
Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has suffered a potential season-ending injury, and there has been plenty of positive COVID-19 test results.
The actual protocol seems unclear though, what happens if a player tests positive after the game? Does everyone who was on the pitch at the same time as the player who tested positive have to quarantine?
Obviously, everyone will be tested but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is safe. For example, Croatia’s Domagoj Vida tested positive at half time and was substituted. With any subsequent action the countries can take coming too little too late.
Another positive COVID-19 test came just after England beat the Republic of Ireland, with Irish midfielder Alan Browne testing positive after playing the full 90 minutes.
Once again, there are no clear guidelines on what the national teams should do other than administer COVID tests to everyone who came in contact with the player in question.
With a large majority of the players participating in the England vs Ireland game playing for Premier League clubs, is there a risk that the biggest league in the world is now put in jeopardy due to the carelessness shown over the break?
The threat of quarantine after the international break has been enough to stop clubs from sending their players to play for their countries.
Bundesliga side’s Werder Bremen and Arminia Bielefeld both said they would not release any of their players to play during the International break, as their local health authorities ruled that they would have to spend several days in quarantine when they returned, potentially putting their club’s season at risk.
Similarly, in the Premier League Manchester United denied Swedish international Victor Lindelof permission to travel to Denmark due to strict quarantine restrictions that the United Kingdom put in place for those travelling back from Denmark.
He later joined up with the squad in Stockholm, as well as four other UK-based Swedish players.
Clubs are now well within their rights to deny their players permission to join up with their national team after a temporary rule change from FIFA.
It is no longer a requirement for a club to release their player for international duty if their countries would require them to quarantine upon their return.
The rule change makes sense, with clubs across the world begging to open their stadiums, whether that be at a reduced or full capacity, in the UK in particular, as all games are being played without a live audience.
Many clubs have stated they have protocols in place when the government allow them to open, but if players can’t even play for both club and country without being unnecessarily put at risk, it seems the return of fans in stadiums is even further away than we originally thought.