By Tim Stannard
Quarantines and calendars kicks off club vs. country clash ahead of World Cup qualifiers
Club soccer teams have never really been on board with the concept of international competition. And why should they? It is in complete contrast to their own interests.
After all, it is the clubs' expensive assets who arrive late for pre-season training if there is a summer tournament - PSG are still waiting for Lionel Messi and Neymar to be ready - and then disappear continuously throughout the season to tour the globe qualifying for the aforementioned pesky tournaments.
All these matches cause wear and tear on the players. Most importantly of all, the extra games significantly increase the chance of injury, making them unavailable for their clubs who are paying hefty salaries to their stars. In Spain, the concept is called 'The FIFA Virus.'
It is in Spain where a bigfoot in front of the exit door has been placed by LaLiga's clubs, which are planning not to release any players called up by South American national teams for the international break which begins after this weekend.
This is because the CONMEBOL region is in catch-up mode for its World Cup qualifiers and planning three games during the international break, rather than the usual two. During the upcoming break, Argentina for example would be playing on a Thursday, Sunday, and Thursday. The last game would be just one day before the new round of action in Europe supposedly gets underway.
"The Spanish association understands that the world calendar cannot and should not be modified in this way, especially when there are alternative solutions," said a statement issued by LaLiga which says a meeting of clubs on a unified stance is planned.
This approach follows Premier League clubs refusing to release any players who are set to travel to countries on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 'red list' - countries that would require ten days of quarantine from players on their return. That list includes much of South America and Africa.
A Premier League statement declared that "clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances."
A heck of a battle is set to take place over the next few days between FIFA which requires players to be released, the clubs which claim that more matches and COVID-19 has seen the goalposts move (figuratively), and the footballers themselves who want to join up with their national teams to help them towards the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, PSG will be looking to finally give some minutes to a certain Lionel Messi and Neymar on Sunday against Reims. Extensive coverage of the potentially historic clash begins live on beIN SPORTS at 2PM ET / 11AM PT.
Nice and Marseille set to receive punishments for Club Med mayhem
Over to France now and Ligue 1's principal's office will be very crowded on Wednesday as Nice and Marseille try to explain away Sunday's crowd vs. players vs. stewards vs. coaches vs. backroom staff mass brawl.
It's fair to say that the action and animosity between the two clubs has been rumbling on since Sunday night in France with both sides blaming each other for the game being abandoned after Marseille's players refused to go back onto the pitch to complete the final 15 minutes.
What to do about the match is set to be just one of many cases to cover including Marseille players throwing bottles into the crowds - and the coach throwing some punches. Nice on the other hand will have to answer for woeful stadium security which allowed Marseille players to be pelted by bottles throughout the game before Dimitri Payet finally snapped.
Meanwhile, Marseille's American owner, Frank McCourt, is publicly supporting his team's club president, Pablo Longoria, saying that "I stand by him, as well as by the members of our team."
Both Nice and Marseille will be back in action on Saturday - fortunately not against each other again. Nice host Bordeaux live on beIN SPORTS from 10:50AM ET / 7:50AM PT. Marseille host Saint Etienne from 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT live on beIN SPORTS.