FIFA backs countries over clubs for virus-delayed WCup games

September 17

GENEVA (AP) — The governing body of South American soccer said Thursday it got assurances from FIFA that European clubs will have to release all players for national team duty when the region's World Cup qualifying starts in October.

The decision could cause unease at European clubs with prominent South American players. The region is still seeing high COVID-19 infection rates, and some European countries require people arriving from South America to go into quarantine.

South American World Cup qualifying has been on hold since March when the opening games were postponed because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil, Argentina and their continental rivals should finally start an 18-round program with games on Oct. 8 and 13. Four days later, European leagues return to action.

It had been unclear if FIFA would uphold rules obliging clubs to release players -- including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar -- for scheduled international breaks if it put them in conflict with public health rules on returning from South America.

FIFA , to clubs ahead of Europe’s national teams playing two games in September, when South America and other continents postponed their matches.

that FIFA president Gianni Infantino told its members they will be able to call up their players from all parts of the world.

“FIFA will have the health protocols for qualifiers next week,” Infantino said, according to CONMEBOL. “There will be no surprises in them.”

Clubs affected by the decision with multiple South American players include Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City and PSG.

The European Club Association representing most top teams declined to comment on the issue Thursday.

Last month, the ECA and the FIFPro network of players’ union , through a congested program of games, some postponed from last season, in a season already delayed by the pandemic.

The guidelines included: “Protections against travel to and through regions with higher safety risks due to COVID-19.”

European soccer body UEFA urged its member federations to ask national authorities for player exemptions from some travel and quarantine limits.


More AP soccer: and

share story

NFL Power Rankings entering Week 8 Visit the post for more.
Released by Diamondbacks Lewicki was released by the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
Impact Lewicki made just two major-league appearances in 2020 as he allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out five over 3.1 innings. After seeing limited action in the big leagues, the 28-year-old intends to play overseas in 2021.
Quiet beside TD-saving tackle Metcalf caught two of five targets for 23 yards in Sunday's 37-34 overtime loss to the Cardinals.
Impact Something about the Cardinals seems to bring Metcalf back down to earth, as he produced just one reception for six yards over two games against the division rivals last year, and the second-year pro was stymied yet again after a brilliant start to the season. While he barely made a dent on offense, Metcalf arguably made the play of the night. When Russell Wilson tossed an interception to Budda Baker at Arizona's goal line, Metcalf chased Baker down and tackled him at the three-yard line, saving a touchdown since the Cardinals ended up turning the ball over on downs. That may have been the finest display of Metcalf's game-breaking speed we've seen to date, and it's a strong reminder of why fantasy managers shouldn't be shooed away by one underwhelming performance. The 22-year-old averaged 99.2 receiving yards per game and scored five total touchdowns before the Week 6 bye, and he'll look to get back on track against the 49ers next Sunday.