Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Warriors’ worst fears come true

The Warriors will now have to find a Plan B for their 2022 World Cup battle against Bafana Bafana next week without their stars based in the United Kingdom and France.

Tino Kadewere
Tino Kadewere

There had been hope the players could be allowed to travel, for countries that are not in the red-list category.

This would have cleared the Warriors stars to fly to Ethiopia, for the second group match, in Bahi Dar.

However, last night, there were reports this has been deemed a complicated process by the clubs and will not be possible.

Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Brendan Galloway, Jordan Zemura, Tendayi Darikwa, Marvelous Nakamba, David Moyo, Admiral Muskwe and Macauley Bonne were all named in the Warriors squad for the two matches.

However, their availability now appears unlikely with the British government set to turn down an appeal from FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, to provide the players with a special waiver.

This would have enabled the players to fly home and play in the two World Cup qualifiers without being put into a 10-day quarantine on their return to their bases.

Zimbabwe, just like most Southern African and American countries, is on the Covid-19 red-list group of nations according to UK regulations, which means travelers from here, including sportspersons, require a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Clubs in the English Premiership have banned their players from featuring in World Cup matches, being held in countries in the red-list group. The lower league, represented by the English Football League, have also followed suit.

“The league recognises that international representation is important for both players and our competitions, with internationals from countries around the world currently playing in the EFL.

“However, in light of the challenges presented, the EFL shares the view that releasing players under these circumstances is not in the collective best interests of individuals, clubs or our domestic competitions and the EFL will be writing to Fifa today to explain the position.”

And reports last night indicated that the French Ligue 1 sides have also adopted a similar stance.

The intervention of FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, who wrote to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, asking for the more than 60 players to be released, had opened a window of hope.

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However, British media outlets revealed yesterday Johnson, whose government sent the British and Irish Lions into a 10-day quarantine, after their return from the tour of South Africa, will snub the appeal from Infantino.

“The fovernment say they have no plans to change policy on arrivals from red-list countries or force Premier League clubs to let players travel for World Cup qualifying matches in those areas,’’ SkySports were the first to report the FIFA boss’s appeal would be rejected.

“The government have told Sky News that public health is their top priority and concerns over foreign variants mean there is no way the rules can be relaxed for professional footballers.

“Downing Street say this is different from Euro 2020 — when all the players were contained within specific bubbles and there was less travel involved.’’

John Cross, the chief football writer for the Mirror tabloid, said the stance comes at a huge cost for England who want to host the 2013 World Cup.

“England could put its 2030 World Cup bid in jeopardy after Premier League stars were banned from international duty,’’ Cross reported yesterday.

“South American and African players have been left fuming at not being able to join up for crunch World Cup clashes.

“Manchester United star, Edinson Cavani, posted a cryptic message on social media questioning the stance while Liverpool pair Sadio Mane and Mo Salah must stay at home.

“That will infuriate countries in South America and Africa who ultimately hold 64 votes between them with Britain trying to launch a joint World Cup bid for the tournament in 2030.

“This latest step has put English football on collision course with other nations and could affect their hopes of being the European nation put forward in the bidding process.’’

A British Government source told the Daily Telegraph the rules will not be bent for the footballers saying, “it is not going to happen. Public health is the priority.”

Pressing for exemptions to be granted to those that saw strict quarantine rules relaxed for the climax of this summer’s European Championship, Infantino said:

“I am calling on a show of solidarity from every member association, every league, and every club, to do what is both right and fair for the global game.

“Many of the best players in the world compete in leagues in England and Spain, and we believe these countries also share the responsibility to preserve and protect the sporting integrity of competitions around the world. “Together we have shown solidarity and unity in the fight against Covid-19.

“Now, I am urging everyone to ensure the release of international players for the upcoming Fifa World Cup qualifiers.”

La Liga has also confirmed it would support any club refusing to release players for games in South America in a row over the extension of next month’s international window from nine to 11 days.

English and Spanish teams could be joined by Paris St-Germain. — The Herald/Mirror/SkySports/Daily Telegraph