SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil was missing nine players from the Premier League for its first day of practice ahead of South American World Cup qualifiers.
Argentina and Colombia managed to bring their England-based players into camp and Paraguay was pressuring FIFA on Monday to get its top striker from Newcastle in time.
The Premier League clubs have been reluctant to send players to South American nations that are red-listed by the British government because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Any players who go and then return to Britain will have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine and have little chance of training.
But the South American rivals seemed to receive different treatment from English clubs.
Brazil could only assemble 22 players in Sao Paulo ahead of matches against Chile, Argentina and Peru. Argentina, meanwhile, had almost all 30 members of its chosen squad — including four from England — available for its qualifier against Venezuela on Thursday. Brazil and Argentina face off on Sunday in a rematch of last month’s Copa America final, which ended Argentina’s 28-year title drought in a 1-0 win.
Brazil coach Tite selected a larger-than-normal 45-man squad in case he couldn’t count on the nine England-based players who were stopped from travelling: Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Ederson, Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Fred (Manchester United), Richarlison (Everton) and Raphinha (Leeds).
Veteran Silva used social media to protest against the decision. He posted a picture on Instagram with a sad face wearing a Chelsea training shirt together with a picture showing two hands tied with a rope.
“Do I need to say anything?” the defender wrote.
Striker Richarlison was more discreet. He posted a picture celebrating a goal for Brazil and mentioned Everton on the top of it.
Already in Brazil were Casemiro, Eder Militão, Vinicius Jr. (Real Madrid), Alex Sandro, Danilo (Juventus), Bruno Guimarães, Lucas Paquetá (Lyon), Gerson (Olympique Marseille), Lucas Veríssimo (Benfica), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Claudinho, Malcom (Zenit St. Petersburg), Santos (Athletico), Edenílson (Internacional), Hulk, Everson, Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Everton Ribeiro, Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Weverton (Palmeiras), Daniel Alves and Miranda (Sao Paulo).
Uruguay will not count on Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani for its three qualifying games. Chile won’t be able to bring striker Ben Brereton from Blackburn.
Paraguay’s soccer association president Robert Harrison said he push the issue with FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, so his team can count on Newcastle striker Miguel Almiron for Thursday’s match against Ecuador.
“We are working on our defense, we want him here,” Harrison said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, Argentina could count on almost a full squad in Caracas for matches against Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. The Argentine Football Association posted pictures of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) and midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso (Tottenham) upon arrival. Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa) and Cristian Romero (Tottenham) also arrived.
The Argentinians have agreed with the clubs in England the players would only be involved in the first two World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil and then return before the third. The same happened to Colombia defender Davinson Sánchez, who will play against Bolivia and Paraguay.
Paris Saint-Germain players were expected to arrive on Tuesday; Neymar and Marquinhos for Brazil, and Lionel Messi, Leandro Paredes and Ángel di Maria for Argentina.
FIFA has told CONMEBOL there will be consequences for clubs who don’t release players as required, which could mean disciplinary action.
On Sunday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against a complaint by the Spanish league against the triple-header of fixtures in South American qualifiers, which would end too close to the resumption of its competition.