Liverpool have failed with a request to change the timing of their upcoming fixture with Watford, amid their fears over the availability of their Brazilian stars.
The Reds play the Hornets on Saturday October 16, but the schedule for Brazil’s latest set of fixtures has caused concern. Indeed, they play three matches, the last of which kicks off on the evening of Thursday October 14.
As such, Liverpool and Leeds United – among others – have asked their players to withdraw from international duty early.
Liverpool will end up one of the hardest-hit clubs, should their Brazilian players play the final game against Uruguay. Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino would likely miss the Saturday 12.30pm kick-off against Watford.
Therefore, The Telegraph has now revealed that the Anfield club requested a time change for the fixture last month.
However, the Premier League rejected the idea of switching the game to 7.45pm on October 16.
That is because Watford opposed the move. Hornets officials claimed that, because rights holders BT Sport announced their coverage of the game in July, changing the time with only a few weeks’ notice would prove detrimental to fans.
Liverpool, though, reportedly felt ‘upset’. Their officials counter-argued that the kick-off time for Brazil’s final match – which is 1.30am in the UK on Friday October 15 – was only confirmed last month.
What’s more, Liverpool referred to the fact that the situation is the same elsewhere in South America. Argentina also play late on Thursday October 14 in Buenos Aires.
As a result, Argentina duo Emiliano Martinez and Giovani Lo Celso – of Aston Villa and Tottenham – could also miss their club games that weekend.
That is alongside further Brazilian stars such as Leeds’ Raphinha and Manchester City’s Ederson. Liverpool argued that losing such players that weekend would devalue the Premier League.
The Telegraph adds that Liverpool have arranged a private jet to fly their Brazilian stars home from Manaus after Brazil’s clash with Uruguay.
However, the decision rests on Brazil and whether manager Tite decides to field them in the match. That is, unless the players agree to withdraw early.
International breaks causing controversy
International breaks have proved a regular feature of the football calendar for some time. However, they have come with increasing controversy since the coronavirus pandemic.
September’s international break saw the dispute between clubs and football associations boil over. Indeed, the Brazilian FA initially banned players for five days after their clubs refused to let them travel.
Premier League sides did not want their players spending 10 days in a quarantine hotel, as were the rules for people returning to the UK from a coronavirus red-listed country.
Brazil’s footballing authorities eventually agreed to lift the sanction.
Ahead of the current international break, the UK government struck a deal to avoid a repeat for fully-vaccinated players.
Nevertheless, talks are ongoing about a similar arrangement for unvaccinated stars.