MADRID: Football clubs in Spain's LaLiga have been forced to release international players for September's South American World Cup qualifiers after a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Sunday.
LaLiga had appealed against global soccer governing body FIFA's extension to the international window for World Cup qualifiers by two days because it meant players participating in the matches would be unable to turn out for their clubs when Spain's domestic fixtures resume on Sept. 11.
FIFA welcomed the decision by CAS, it said in a statement.
World soccer’s governing body announced earlier this month that fixtures missed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be played in September and October, and increased the CONMEBOL international window by two days until Sep 10.
It cited extensive travel and player safety as the reasons for the extension.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid were all due to play league fixtures 24 hours later and on Thursday LaLiga said it had held a meeting with all concerned teams, who agreed not to release their players for international duty.
LaLiga criticised the CAS ruling in a statement, calling FIFA's decision a "plain declaration of intent to intervene in autonomous national leagues".
The league also responded by shifting fixtures for the corresponding weekend, moving Real Madrid-Celta Vigo and Espanyol-Atletico Madrid from Saturday Sep 11 to Sunday Sep 12 and requesting for Sevilla-Barcelona and Villarreal-Alaves, both set for Sep 11, to be postponed.
The fixture change allows players involved in the World Cup qualifiers to play for their clubs but causes more disruption to the teams, who are all due to play in the Champions League the following Tuesday and Wednesday.