Brazil’s plans for their World Cup qualifiers have suffered another setback with Malcom and Claudinho recalled by Zenit St Petersburg in the hope they will be available to face Chelsea.
Zenit are at Stamford Bridge on 14 September in the Champions League and appear to have realised belatedly that their Brazilians would not be available if they remained in South America for three qualifiers because of the UK’s red-list quarantine rules.
Malcom and Claudinho met up in Brazil with the squad, already without nine players not released by Premier League clubs because they would have to serve a strict 10-day hotel quarantine on their return.
But rather than fly to Chile for the first of the qualifiers they flew back to Russia on Wednesday, after talks with Brazil manager Tite and team coordinator, Juninho Paulista.
The Brazilian FA responded by lodging an official complaint to FIFA, and issuing a statement in which they urge football’s governing body to deploy ‘all applicable punishments’ upon Zenit.
FIFA rules include a possible five-day ban for players who not released for international duty when selected by their countries.
Any such ban would rule Malcom and Claudinho out of the game at Chelsea because it comes on the fifth day after Brazil’s qualifier against Peru, on Thursday 9 September.
Premier League clubs will be watching the situation with interest as they wait to discover their own fate having made a pact not to release players for international games in red-list countries.
Six clubs refused to let nine Brazilians join up with the squad in South America. Liverpool: Fabinho, Roberto Firmino and Alisson; Manchester City: Ederson and Gabriel Jesus; Chelsea: Thiago Silva; Manchester United: Fred; Everton: Richarlison; Leeds: Raphinha.
If Brazil lodge a similar complaint, they could all find FIFA’s five-day rule invoked, ruling these players out of one or two games after the international break.
Chile, Paraguay and Mexico are also thought to be considering complaints against English clubs for not releasing players.
The only players known to be playing in red-list countries and therefore subject to strict quarantine upon their return are the four Argentina players - Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia of Aston Villa and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham – and Colombia’s Davinson Sanchez, also of Tottenham.