With the international break just around the corner, the issue of players traveling to red-list countries is once again in focus. Last time, the Premier League collectively decided to not let players go, as they would’ve had to quarantine for ten days afterwards — which is what those who left anyway ended up doing in Croatia, which is not a red-list country (thus no quarantine requirements upon their return), and where they could still train outside.
The Premier League’s decision ruffled plenty of feathers among the affected national teams (Brazil, first and foremost), though the league avoided any further fallout by convincing FIFA to not enforce their five-day ban rule for players “refusing” a call-up. Part of that agreement was an understanding that a similar situation would be avoided next time around, with Brazil for example already calling up eight Premier League players for the next two weeks, including Chelsea’s Thiago Silva.
So now we’re at that next time around, and the UK government have indeed relaxed requirements for Premier League players, as announced today. They still have to quarantine upon their return in “bespoke facilities”, but will be allowed to leave to play and to train — but only to play and to train, and nothing else and no outside visitors. That’s a bit harsh on them, especially those with families, as Jürgen Klopp pointed out, calling it “not a real solution”, but it is what we got.
Players will also have to be fully vaccinated to be eligible for this psuedo-quarantine. Unvaccinated players would still have to adhere to strict quarantine regulations if they travel. Considering the low numbers reported for vaccination uptake among Premier League players, this may be a decent incentive for some.
It’s a compromise that’s unlikely to completely please everyone, but that’s often the nature of compromises. As always, I’d be more than happy to just get rid of international football, especially these interruptions sprinkled in throughout the season leading to unnecessarily congested schedules and extra heavy workloads.