Brazil clear Leeds United's Raphinha to face Liverpool

Less than 48 hours before kick-off, Raphinha has been cleared to play for Leeds United against Liverpool on Sunday.

So have opposition players Alisson and Fabinho, and all 11 Premier League players who were under threat of suspension.

Collectively, the Premier League and Football League clubs decided two-and-a-half weeks ago they would not allow their players to travel to countries on the Government's "red list" to play World Cup qualifiers. Doing so would involve them quarantining for 10 days on their return.

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Despite this, four English-based Argentinian players did travel.

CLEARED: Brazil have dropped their objection to Raphinha facing Liverpool

At present, the decision only applies to this week's matches. There are further internationals planned in countries currently on the red list for October, November and January/February as South America tries to catch up the World Cup qualifiers postponed last year to avoid similar issues. The World Cup is due to be played in Qatar in December 2022.

"If a player leaves his club for ten days and he has to quarantine for ten days he didn't leave for ten days, he left for 21 days," argued Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa, factoring in a day's travelling too.

"For four weeks in a month, there are three weeks he won't be able to play for the club he belongs to. There are international breaks in September, October, November. In those three months if he's not going to participate for three weeks, when you face that reality it's impossible to think that nothing's going to happen."

Despite that, FIFA refused to drop its rule, suspended last season because of Covid-19 that countries could ask for their players to be suspended for five days of club football.

Some countries decided to waive that, and Brazil did over Everton's Richarlison because he had played for them in the Copa America and Olympics. But in the case of Raphinha and others, they, Mexico, Paraguay and Chile asked for the rule to be enforced.

Mexico and Paraguay relented on Friday afternoon UK time and eventually the rest followed under considerable lobbying from the Premier League clubs.

Whether Raphinha will play anyway remains to be seen. It may be that because the decision came overnight UK time that Bielsa has prepared for the game without Raphinha, and does not feel able to include him. That is an easier decision to make because deadline-day signing Dan James is ready to start in Raphinha right-wing position according to the coach.

That it has taken two-and-a-half weeks from the clubs announcing their stance to this temporary resolution is hugely frustrating for the clubs and the fans who have tickets for Sunday's game.

As a goalkeeper, Liverpool's Alisson is much more likely to play. Striker Roberto Firmino is another who did not report for Brazil, but is unfit to play on Sunday with a hamstring injury.