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Vaccinated Premier League footballers granted international travel exemption

Good news for Tottenham’s South American internationals... maybe.

Tottenham Hotspur v NS Mura: Group B - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Some Premier League footballers and clubs will no longer need to choose between their club teams and their international football allegiances in a World Cup year. Today, numerous outlets are reporting a deal cut between the Premier League and UK government that will exempt England-based players from travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19.

However, there are a couple of catches, the biggest being that this travel exemption only applies to players who are fully vaccinated.

Earlier reports had implied players had to go into a hard quarantine for five days upon return from a red-listed country, but they could do so at club facilities and train on their own before re-joining their team. This ten day quarantine is longer, but also somewhat softer — exempted players returning must stay quarantined at a club-arranged facility for ten days, leaving only once per day to train with their team, or to play matches.

It feels like something of a compromise. These players will not miss any match time if they choose to report for international duty, but they also won’t miss any club matches. But it’s not perfect. The ten day quarantine requirement still means that these players are isolated and away from their families for a matter of weeks; this new agreement doesn’t really address that part of it.

As reported in World Soccer Talk, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was critical of this new agreement for that reason... and he has a point.

“That would mean the players go for 10-12 days with their national teams. Then another 10 days away from their families into quarantine. That’s 22 days and two weeks later there is another international break.

“It is not okay we just move responsibility to the players. If you are ready to do that then ok, if not then stay here.”

The vaccination requirement however could be the real fly in the ointment. Recent reports have suggested that the majority of Premier League clubs have 50% or less of their players fully vaccinated, but there isn’t good data coming from the league, with many clubs less than forthcoming with public vaccination data.

For Tottenham, it’s an open question. We have no idea how many Spurs players have chosen to get vaccinated and who those players are. If Cuti Romero, Davinson Sanchez, Gio Lo Celso, or potentially even Lucas Moura have chosen not to get jabbed for whatever reason, this agreement doesn’t apply and we’re back to the same issues that dogged these players during the September international break.

As of yet, we haven’t heard from Tottenham as to how this new agreement will impact their South American internationals, but we may find out more information soon, and it could give us an idea of just who’s gotten the shot and who hasn’t.

Update: Right after posting this article, I was alerted to this tweet from Alasdair Gold, who implies that all four of Tottenham’s South American internationals called up for duty are “fine to play and train” upon returning, meaning all four are double-jabbed. Whew!