EXCLUSIVE: Footballers due to play March internationals in countries on Boris Johnson’s hotel quarantine list will NOT be exempt from the new rules… meaning they must pull-out of the games or miss club matches when they fly back
- 56 players in the Premier League are from Portugal or South American countries
- Department for Transport guidance removes exemptions for elite sports people who visit countries where travel to the UK is currently banned
- Boris Johnson is expected to publish a list of up to 30 ‘high-risk’ Covid countries where returning travellers will be forced to quarantine in hotels for10 days
- Players will be left with a club versus country choice if rules remain in March
Premier League footballers selected for World Cup qualifiers in Portugal or South America will be forced to quarantine for 10 days when they return to England, with no exemptions, according to new Government rules.
The Department for Transport has updated its travel guidance, which states that exemptions for elite sports people do not apply for countries where travel to the UK is currently banned.
The move will essentially mean players and clubs must choose between club and country. And it has led to urgent discussions between government and football’s governing bodies as they calculate the implications.
South Americans selected for March internationals may have to choose club or country
A taskforce of officials from the Departments of Health and Transport as well as the Department for Culture Media and Sport are urgently assessing the consequences for Arsenal’s Europa League Round of 32 fixture away to Benfica and the March internationals.
The DfT’s banned list of countries includes, Portugal and South American nations, like Argentina, Uruguay Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay.
There are currently 56 players from these countries plying their trade in the Premier League, who, if selected and they chose to travel home for international matches would then be unavailable for their clubs for 10 days.
Fabian Balbuena plays for Premier League West Ham United and represents Paraquay
These nations are also expected to be included in Boris Johnson list of up to 30 ‘high risk’ Covid countries where returning travellers will be forced to quarantine in hotels for the 10-day period.
The list is also expected to include, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and southern Africa.
These areas have been chosen because of dangerous variants that have emerged there – or because they have rocketing infection and death rates.