Coronavirus: Clubs not forced to release international players as FIFA recommends postponements
- FIFA has ruled clubs can keep their players for the upcoming international break, and it is consequently in favour of postponements.
Clubs will not be forced to release their players for international duty in March and April amid the coronavirus crisis, with FIFA recommending fixture postponements.
Football has largely come to a standstill worldwide as associations attempt to combat the spread of a virus that has already led to over 5,000 deaths.
The Champions League and Europa League have notably been suspended, along with each of Europe's top five leagues.
Fixtures in MLS, the Scottish Premiership and the English Football League are also all off.
The Premier League, Serie A and LaLiga have paused play until after the scheduled upcoming international break, while the Ligue 1 season has been postponed until further notice.
International football now appears unlikely to continue, too, as clubs - usually powerless to prevent call-ups – have received permission to keep their players following a FIFA Council decision.
FIFA will not impose the postponement of all forthcoming fixtures but is encouraging such measures.
A statement read: "FIFA understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not.
"To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public.
"The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organisers or relevant member association in case of friendlies."
World Cup qualifiers in Asia and South America have already been pushed back, along with the cancellation of some international friendlies.
UEFA is yet to call off the Euro 2020 play-offs set for the coming weeks, although the tournament's existing schedule appears to be in doubt ahead of a meeting next Tuesday.Published 14 Mar 2020, 02:50 IST