KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the hope of reversing a decision by Premier League clubs to refuse world federation orders to release players for any of next month’s World Cup qualifiers in countries on the UK Government’s red list.

All clubs are mandated to release players for national team duty in the windows set aside for such fixtures in the international calendar. Clubs in other western European countries are considering similar reactions.

On Tusday the Premier League said in a statement that the negative reaction of its clubs, reached “reluctantly but unanimously”, applied to nearly 60 players from 19 clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries.

The statement added: “This follows FIFA’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty. Extensive discussions have taken place with both the FA and the Government to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red-list countries, no exemption has been granted.”

The UK uses a traffic lights system to assess the risk of Covid-19 infection transmission in different countries. Almost all of South America and most of Africa is on a red list but only two European countries: Turkey and Georgia.

Traveling to red list countries would render players unavailable for two Premier League matchdays, a UEFA competitions matchday and the third round of the League Cup.

Earlier this year the government granted quarantine exemptions for sports men and women. These exemptions have now been cancelled. However FIFA has also refused to extend its own temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.

Infantino responded to the Premier clubs’ challenge to FIFA’s authority by pleading for help from the UK Government.

He said: “Together we have shown solidarity and unity in the fight against COVID-19. Now, I am urging everyone to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“I have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appealed for the necessary support so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, which is one of the ultimate honours for a professional footballer.

“I have suggested that an approach similar to that adopted by the UK government for the final stages of the Euro 2020 be implemented for the upcoming international matches.”

The issue of players travelling to red-list countries needing to quarantine for 10 days in a managed hotel after flying back to Britain is exacerbated by FIFA’s recent decision to extend the September and October international windows in South America by two days to catch up on postponed fixtures.

Infantino added: “We have faced global problems together in the past and must continue to do so in the future. The release of players in the upcoming international windows is a matter of great urgency and importance.

“I am grateful for the support and cooperation from many stakeholders in the game during this challenging period.I am calling on a show of solidarity from every member association, every league, and every club, to do what is both right and fair for the global game.

“Many of the best players in the world compete in leagues in England and Spain, and we believe these countries also share the responsibility to preserve and protect the sporting integrity of competitions around the world.”