The fight between European clubs against South American teams reached its apex with the position of La Liga and Premier League not to release players for the World Cup qualifiers. Conmebol guided selections to keep the calls and FIFA is trying to negotiate a way out. But the entity waved punishment to the teams in case of non-compliance with the rules.
The dispute began with changes in the FIFA dates for the South American Cup qualifiers due to the covid pandemic. Games postponed from the beginning of the year have been combined for triple rounds in September and October. When consulted, the European clubs were against, but their suggestions were ignored. Quarantine exceptions were dropped by FIFA.
Given this scenario, Premier League and La Liga said they would hold 85 players in the total of South American teams. The English league claims it would lose athletes because of the country’s quarantine, the Spanish league says it will take legal action for games not provided for in the initial calendar.
Conmebol instructed the selections to keep the calls and left it up to FIFA to negotiate to resolve the imbroglio. A new postponement is ruled out. There is a feeling in the governing body of football that the South American qualifiers are treated differently from the European ones.
In a letter to Conmebol, FIFA president Gianni Infantino agreed with Conmebol after insistent requests for help from its president, Alejandro Dominguez. In the document, the international federation says it would speak to national associations and clubs affected about the current rules. And he cited “consequences” for not complying with the legislation that requires the release.
Well, the FIFA rule that regulates transfers and transfers of players treats as mandatory the transfer by clubs within FIFA dates. In case of non-compliance, players cannot act during the period in which they should be released and for another five days. In other words, as a rule, they could not act for their clubs for 16 days. There would be embezzlements in 32 teams from the two main leagues in Europe.
Disciplinary procedures for further punishment of clubs would still be opened. According to the disciplinary code, there is a wide possibility of penalties: from reprimands to relegation, from fines to loss of points, from transfer bans to cancellation of games. The process is usually long.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee would have to make the tough decision to punish clubs from two strong leagues. At the same time, if nothing is done or there is a soft position, any club can disregard the calls. And national team football, which is FIFA’s mainstay, would be compromised.
The easiest scenario for FIFA would be for the British government to relax the mandatory quarantine on players’ return, and for clubs to back down from their rejection of the call-up. Resetting dates is a tricky scenario in today’s calendar. FIFA’s decision will also indicate the future of the relationship between clubs and national teams.