EPL Clubs Won't Release Players for Internationals Played in 'Red-List' Countries

Adam WellsAugust 24, 2021

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: The Premier League logo on the official Nike Premier League match ball for the 2020/21 season on October 14, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)

The Premier League won't release players for 26 international matches set to be played in countries on the UK government's "red list" next month. 

Per a statement released by the EPL, clubs "reluctantly but unanimously" decided not to make players from teams that are playing in those countries available during the September international break because of COVID-19 risk in those countries and quarantine requirements for returning to the UK. 

"The clubs' decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window," the statement reads.

As of Aug. 24, the UK government has a total of 60 red-list countries that are defined as high-risk for new and existing strains of the coronavirus.   

Tuesday's statement comes one day after Liverpool refused to release Mohamed Salah to play for Egypt in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 2 against Angola and Sept. 5 against Gabon. 

Salah wasn't included on Egypt's Olympic squad last month because Liverpool was reluctant to let him participate in the Tokyo Games. 

Per Andy Hunter of The Guardian, Liverpool was among a group of European Club Association members seeking an exemption from the UK government to the mandatory quarantine rules involving people returning from red-list countries. 

Anyone returning to the UK from a red-list country is required to pass a COVID-19 test before traveling. Then, after returning to the UK, they must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, even if vaccinated, in a government-approved hotel and test negative for COVID-19 twice before being allowed to go home. 

"Quarantine requirements mean that players’ welfare and fitness will be significantly impacted," Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said in the statement. "We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions."

The Premier League settled on a course of action that will allow it to continue playing matches while attempting to protect players from contracting COVID-19 and preventing them from having to miss multiple games because of quarantine regulations.