Chelsea doesn’t think that all international breaks are dumb. They just think, like any sensible organization, that international breaks this year are dumb. Covid was a thing last season and it didn’t magically go away when international football was resumed. If anything, cases of Covid spiked in teams.
Generally, clubs have to release fit players that get called up during regularly scheduled FIFA international windows. They can work with the national team to hang on to a player but they aren’t able to outright refuse. Doesn’t matter if it is a friendly or a “competitive” fixture. That is, of course, unless clubs band together.
Chelsea is set to join Liverpool and Tottenham in refusing to release players who will have to quarantine coming to and from their national teams. There are rumors that the Manchester clubs will join in which wraps up England’s five biggest clubs (sorry Arsenal, got to be in the races to play ball).
FIFA already allowed this for certain quarantines but this is going a step further for all quarantines. There is even a thought that Wolverhampton will withhold from Portugal which pretty much means Portugal is going to use their youth team. Oh, it also means, if it can happen to one European team, it can happen to all of them.
That’s a little further down the road so how does it affect Chelsea right now? At the moment, Hakim Ziyech, Edouard Mendy, and Thiago Silva will be withheld from their national teams. Some nations are working around certain restrictions by meeting up in Europe but if clubs are already putting a foot down on one side, it shouldn’t be too hard to start doing it on the other.
Vaccines are rolling out world wide but very few have been lucky enough to get them. Certainly not enough that you can take a player or two from dozens of teams around the world and put them in close quarters for two weeks without any issues. And certainly not for the brand of football that will result.
Of course, that’s another issue that is coming. Many tournaments from last summer were delayed to this summer. But not only are players playing a compressed schedule, they have had an increased load of international games too with many nations playing three on some breaks to make up for lost time. Then, after the most physically demanding year in their career, they’ll go the Euros or Copa America or the Olympics or even just World Cup qualifiers as the walking dead. They’ll return to their clubs after those matches right as a new season is starting and next season is likely to be one where the stars are struggling to walk.
International breaks are often ill timed for the majority of clubs and their players, but especially in the current circumstances the world finds itself in. There is very much a sense that international matches are happening just because that is what has always happened rather than putting thought into what should happen.
It is fantastic Chelsea is doing their part for some of their players’ wellbeing. Hopefully, they are joined by many clubs and even take it a step further. Because honestly, no one wants a two week break to watch low quality, Covid ridden football.