With the return of national football this weekend after the international October break and with a round of Champions League matches on the horizon, teams across Europe are preparing to return to action for the first time in two weeks.
However, with five CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers set to be played on Thursday, a slew of South American players based in Europe will return to their clubs late and therefore unlikely to be able to participate in the league games.
The CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers have gone quickly this month, with three games played during the 14-day international break – October 7, October 10 and October 14. While not a direct result of COVID-19 and the quarantine restrictions, device stacking has occurred due to the backlog caused by all the various delays and postponements caused by the pandemic over the past 18 months as well as the staging of the Copa America earlier this year.
Due to the elite athlete exemption rule in the UK, double-vaccinated Premier League footballers no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after returning from international service. Instead, they are allowed to self-quarantine at specialized facilities and leave once a day to train or play while undergoing regular testing all the time. However, the exemption does not really have any effect in this case. The real issue is time, with many CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers due to take place less than 40 hours before the Premier League return on Saturday.
Somewhere else, real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have successfully asked LaLiga to have their matches (against Athletics Bilbao and Grenade respectively) rescheduled as both clubs still have as many players abroad and the Champions League matches to come on Tuesday. This follows Barcelona and Seville have matches moved last month for the same reasons.