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Monday, March 27, 2023

South America’s World Cup Qualifiers in March Suspended

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The South American Football Confederation has confirmed March’s World Cup qualifiers have been suspended amid tightening coronavirus restrictions.

The double header qualifiers for Qatar 2022 were set to take place on Thursday March 25, Friday March 26 and Tuesday March 30.

But CONMEBOL acknowledged that the logistical travel nightmares caused by Covid-19 combined with strict lockdown and quarantine measures in Europe mean many of their nations’ players who play European club football will be unable to travel.

‘The CONMEBOL Council has decided to suspend the double-header of Qatar 2022 qualifiers scheduled for March,’ a statement read.

‘The decision is due to the impossibility of having all the South American players in a timely manner.

‘Fifa will work on the rescheduling of the date, in coordination with CONMEBOL and the member associations. Soon, the different options for holding the matches will be studied.’

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as well as Liverpool and Chelsea counterparts Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel have all signalled their intention to block their stars from travelling to play national team matches later this month.

Had their stars travelled to places on the UK’s banned list – which includes all of the South American nations – they would be forced to quarantine in hotels for 10 days on their return and miss matches and training sessions.

Five Manchester City players — Ederson, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero — were facing games in red list countries, while Klopp faced losing Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho.

Chelsea manager Tuchel was also going to prevent Brazil captain Thiago Silva from playing against Colombia and Argentina.

Guardiola said: ‘It makes no sense if the players go to the national team and then have to isolate for 10 days when they come back.

‘We’ve worked incredibly hard for eight or nine months. They are not going to fly. If they can come straight back to training they’ll fly. We invest a lot of time and money.’

Chelsea boss Tuchel added: ‘I am worried because my target is the Premier League. If I have players in quarantine, I cannot build the group we want and this is the risk. If it maybe is the consequence that players cannot go, then this is the consequence.’

Klopp was the first to air his opposition, stating: ‘I think all the [Premier League] clubs with the same problems agree we cannot just let the boys just go and then sort the situation when they return with a 10-day quarantine in a hotel or whatever. That is just not possible.

‘I understand the needs of the different FAs but this is a time when we cannot make everybody happy.

‘We have to admit that the players are paid by the clubs so that means we have to be the first priority. That’s how it is.

‘I get the need with the competitions coming up in the summer – I get it – but you cannot make everybody happy at the same time in this period of our lives.

‘Everybody agrees, we cannot let the players just go and have them come back and stay in a quarantine for 10 days in a hotel. That is not how we can do it.’

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