With the March international break just over a month away but the pandemic causing travel problems, FIFA have extended an exemption for player release.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Cedric Soares celebrate (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Cedric Soares celebrate (Photo via Arsenal.com)

As Arsenal fans will be all too aware, thanks to the Europa League tie against Benfica, the travel bans between various countries (including the UK and Portugal) have made things difficult for footballers.

The situation obviously gets more complicated over the international break, when players from all around the world come together with their national teammates to play against another team of players from anywhere and everywhere.

This week, Pep Guardiola spoke about his fears for the upcoming break in late March, saying: “The reason why there were a lot of cases in the Premier League and now there are barely any cases is because the people don’t move.

“Home, training centre, training centre, home. Home, game, game, home. The moment you take planes and move places, I don’t know, everything can happen.”

Fortunately, FIFA have made things slightly easier. Whilst clubs are usually required to release players for international duty, FIFA have granted an exemption for clubs to refuse if there is a mandatory quarantine of five days or more in place in the relevant country.

This exemption is currently set to last until the end of April, and means Arsenal wouldn’t need to release anyone from a UK ‘red list’ country – including Portugal, South America and parts of southern Africa.

We don’t know who would have been called up anyway, but it looks like Cedric Soares, the Brazilian contingent and any others potentially affected will now simply remain with Arsenal instead. At least that’s one complication we shouldn’t need to worry about.