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Argentina coach blasts Premier League for withholding CONMEBOL players: ‘This cannot happen again’

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Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has called on the Premier League and other European competitions to stop preventing players from joining their respective national teams during international windows.

The Premier League unanimously agreed last week to not release players that had been called up for international duty if they were going to play matches in countries on the UK’s coronavirus “red list”.

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CONMEBOL countries Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru are all on the British government’s “red list” of countries that trigger a 10-day hotel quarantine on return.

LaLiga said it, too, would support any Spanish club that did not want to release players to join national teams in areas that were seeing increased cases of the coronavirus.

“This cannot happen again,” Scaloni said on Wednesday. “I feel that we have to reconsider many things because we cannot accept what happened with the release of players. There were national teams that were left without some players and others that had players come but we then had to send [the players] back.

“We have time until the next window. The [national team] coaches and the federations will meet and we will find a solution. This cannot continue in the next [international] window.”

One of the federations most affected in this window was Brazil.

Sources told ESPN that the Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) has requested that FIFA sanction those clubs that refused to allow their players to travel by invoking a FIFA rule that prevents players from featuring for their clubs if they are not released for international duty.

If successful, eight Premier League clubs could be affected.

Argentina did have Premier League-based players Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia available for their World Cup qualifiers at Venezuela, a 3-1 win on Sept. 3, and Sunday’s game in Brazil

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, that was suspended after Brazil officials stopped the match over quarantine issues.

However, the four players were released from the national team on Monday to return with their clubs and will miss Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Bolivia.

“We knew the predisposition of the players, they did the impossible to be here,” Scaloni said. “But a decision had to be made. I saw them worried and overwhelmed because their clubs wanted them to return as quickly as possible.”

Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso and Buendia were accused by Brazil’s health authorities of breaching the country’s quarantine protocols.

Under Brazilian rules, visitors that have been in the U.K. in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Brazilian officials rushed onto the field four minutes into Sunday’s World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina in Sao Paulo and the game was suspended.

Disciplinary proceedings were opened by FIFA against Argentina and Brazil after what happened.

“My feeling is the same as that of everyone in the footballing world who expected a high-level spectacle with great players and we ended up with nothing,” Scaloni said. “Especially because this is an important time for us [as Copa America champions]. It’s a strange and ugly sensation because we couldn’t play football, which is what we wanted.

“At no time did we think what happened could have happened against Brazil. I took the necessary precautions for the players to play, I had the OK from CONMEBOL. At no time did we think this was going to happen. It was all very strange.”

Argentina’s squad, meanwhile, underwent COVID-19 tests on Tuesday which came out negative after a chef at their base tested positive.





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