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PL clubs not obliged to release Portuguese or South American players in March

PL clubs not obliged to release Portuguese or South American players in March
© Reuters
The coronavirus pandemic has led FIFA to temporarily amend player release rules for internationals.

Premier League clubs will not be obliged to let Portuguese or South American stars represent their national teams in the March international break after world governing body FIFA extended a rule over player release.

Clubs are usually bound by FIFA regulations to release players for international duty but an exemption was added in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which allows clubs to refuse in a number of circumstances, including where there is a mandatory quarantine period of five days or more on return to their club.

That exemption has now been extended until the end of April.

The UK has said anyone returning from a  'red list' country – which includes Portugal, all of South America and parts of southern Africa – will need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Elite sports stars are not exempt from the rules.

European champions Portugal are due to kick off their qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup at home to Azerbaijan on March 24, but may now have to do so without English-based stars such as Bruno Fernandes or Bernardo Silva.

Brazil's squad for their World Cup qualifiers may also be weakened as a result of the new rules. Chelsea's Thiago Silva, Manchester City duo Ederson and Gabriel Jesus along with Everton's Richarlison and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino all started their last qualifier away to Uruguay in November last year.

FIFA said in a statement: "In the context of the challenges that remain in place for both international and domestic football due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to provide additional flexibility regarding the release of players for national team duty and the registration of players with clubs in competitions that remain disrupted by the pandemic."

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France players celebrate after beating Portugal in the Nations League on November 14, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States1010929
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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