Is FIFA hinting at Government back-down to resolve football's club versus country dispute?

FIFA has hinted the Government could relax its Covid-19 quarantine rules to avoid another club-versus-country football row in October.

Leeds United winger Raphinha was one of 11 Premier League players cleared to play club football this weekend despite their employers refusing to release them for World Cup qualifiers played in countries on the Government' s "red list".

They objected because the players would have been forced to quarantine for 10 days on their return. Instead, FIFA threatened to ban the players for five under rules to stop clubs releasing their players for internationals in sanctioned windows.

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The Premier League and Football League clubs made a collective decision not to release players, although four English-based Argentinian players broke ranks to travel for three World Cup qualifiers, one of which was abandoned controversially because of arguments over quarantine rules in Brazil.

DIPLOMATIC ROW: Raphinha was initially banned for playing for Leeds United against Liverpool

FIFA's rule is only applied if the relevant countries object. Some never did, but over the course of Friday/Saturday, Mexico, Paraguay, Chile and Brazil all dropped their complaints.

A statement by world football's governing body hinted it was because a compromise with the Government over future internationals was in the offing. There are further South American qualifiers in October, November and January/February.

Before the September matches FIFA unsuccessfully lobbied Boris Johnson to allow the players returning from the red list countries to be exempted from quarantine rules.

The Government had granted quarantine exceptions for spectators and sponsors to attend the European Championship semi-finals and final at Wembley under threat of them being taken away from Wembley, but refused any such privilege to the British and Irish Lions squad when they returned from a tour of South Africa.

There have been suggestions the "traffic light" system, which puts different (or no) quarantine restrictions on countries depending on a risk assessment which is regularly updated, could soon be dropped and reading between the lines of FIFA's statement, they might be anticipating this too. If not, the players could be offered an exemption.

“Based on positive signals and constructive dialogue FIFA has received from the UK government towards the international match window in October, recognising that players have no control over the extreme situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and sanitary restrictions currently imposed and, as a sign of good faith, goodwill and cooperation, the member associations of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay, in close consultation with FIFA, have taken the decision to withdraw their complaints in relation to the England-based players, and players bound to play in England, who were not released for the recent international matches," it read.