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US coaches protest against European clubs blocking players

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SAO PAULO (AP) – Coaches of South America’s national teams demonstrated on Saturday against European clubs who pressured their players to skip three rounds of the World Cup qualifiers this month.

Brazilian Tite, Argentinian Lionel Scaloni, Colombian Reinaldo Rueda and Chilean Martin Lasarte want FIFA to solve the problem before the other three rounds of the 10-team round robin slated for October.

Several England-based players, following the advice of their clubs, have not traveled due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the British government, which has put South America on the red list, which means around 40 compulsory hotel if they go there and come back. Brazil also lost two Zenit St. Petersburg players minutes before leaving for Chile because their club recalled them to Russia.

Argentina, however, have not lost any of the four they have called up, and Colombia have received defender Davinson Sanchez.


Tite said he was without nine English Premier League players, including five frequent starters. He agreed with another aggrieved coach, Lasarte. They spoke on Thursday after Brazil beat Chile 1-0 in Santiago. Brazil receives Argentina on Sunday.

“He (Lasarte) told me it’s absurd what they’re doing to us, we have to have equality to bring all of our players,” Tite said. “He said we could count on him for any protest and I said the same thing. We have to be on the same wavelength. We are not in the same conditions to prepare for the World Cup, and c t is a privilege for others, especially the European national teams.

Rueda said the issue should be treated with caution “because national teams also have to be careful with a player’s day-to-day life at his club”.

“But we have the support of FIFA,” he added of the national teams having the right to bring players. “The players are talking to their clubs in Europe. Our hope is that we can finish the next matches without any inconvenience.”

FIFA granted two additional catch-up days for South America in September and October so that three playoffs can be played in each window, rather than the usual two. He also told CONMEBOL that there would be consequences for clubs failing to release players as required, which could lead to disciplinary action.

But complaints from European clubs focus on South America’s third game which will take place on September 9, a Thursday. It is less than two days before the resumption of the national championships in Europe.

Scaloni wants the matter discussed as quickly as possible and supports any sanctions, without giving names of people or organizations.

“These rounds are played because everything was too fast, but we can’t compete like that,” Scaloni said. “I understand the other national teams and give them full support. You can do it for one or two games. But no more.”

Argentina have received Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia from Aston Villa and Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero from Tottenham for just two of the three coming qualifiers, but Scaloni has denied such an arrangement.

These players could become a last-minute problem for Argentina, also due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Brazilian health agency said in a statement that all four had told immigration officials that they had not recently been to the UK or any other country the South American nation has listed on a red list for the risks associated with COVID-19.

“Travelers who have been in the UK, South Africa, Northern Ireland and India in the last 14 days with some exceptions (eg Brazilian nationals) should not enter the national territory. They must first quarantine themselves in another country before entering Brazil, ”said the health agency. “Giving false information to Brazilian authorities could constitute a health offense and a violation of local laws.”

The Sao Paulo state health secretariat said in another statement that local investigators were heading to the Argentinian hotel to check the documents, questioning whether the four Argentines will play on Sunday.

“We will report all the information so that the national health agency decides whether the athletes should be quarantined,” he said.

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