Portugal to switch game against Azerbaijan to Italy

Portugal to switch World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan to Italy, meaning Premier League stars will AVOID a lengthy hotel quarantine period after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned he could refuse to let Bruno Fernandes fly off to ‘red list’ country

  • Portugal have switched the location of their World Cup qualifier to Italy 
  • The home of the European champions is currently on the red-list amid Covid-19 
  • Premier League bosses had expressed concern over their players leaving
  • Jurgen Klopp said that he would stop his players from flying to a red-list country 
  • Portugal face Azerbaijan in Turin, and will prepare for their other games in Italy 

Portugal have been granted permission to switch their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan to Italy to ensure their Premier League stars will be available.

With travel between Portugal and the United Kingdom currently banned for most citizens due to Covid-19, UK-based players like Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva would have faced a lengthy hotel quarantine period on their return, ruling them out of club fixtures.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had already indicated he would ask his stars to avoid playing matches in countries on the UK’s ‘red list’ – and Portugal have moved swiftly to move their clash on March 24, originally scheduled to take place in Lisbon, to the Juventus Stadium in Turin, Cristiano Ronaldo’s home ground.

Portugal’s World Cup qualifier will be moved to Italy amid concerns over quarantining rules

Portugal is a red-list country meaning UK-based stars would have had to quarantine for 10 days







Cape Verde



Democratic Republic of the Congo



French Guiana










Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)



South Africa



United Arab Emirates (UAE)





Anyone who has been in or travelled through any of these countries 10 days prior to arriving in the UK will be refused entry.

Any UK nationals or residents travelling into the country from these countries must quarantine for 10 days in a Government-approved hotel.  


Portugal will also prepare for their other matches, in Serbia and Luxembourg, in Italy, meaning all their players – including Wolves’ five-strong contingent – should be able to feature if fit.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted that he was prepared to stop star midfielder Bruno Fernandes from representing his country before the switch of location was made.

‘We’re the ones paying the players and from what I understand that’s the rule, FIFA have given the rules that they don’t have to be released so I would think that’s going to be a hard call to make to let them go and play in red list countries,’ he said on Wednesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted he would prevent Bruno Fernandes from representing Portugal

‘I want Bruno ready against Brighton and hopefully that we’re through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break.’ 

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has demanded greater clarity from the Premier League and Government on the matter, with the international break looming.

He said: ‘Now we are facing international breaks with all the circumstances around the world. Travel corridors are closed, there are restrictions on freedom and mobility, and yet players are going to play three qualifiers in different countries.

Jurgen Klopp said he would not allow his stars to travel to red-list countries this month

Portugal’s game with Azerbaijan will take place at the Turin Stadium, home of Juventus

‘I will never discourage players from travelling. All our players who play international football must be proud as it is a high point in their careers. But we have two more games to play before the break and what we expect is direction from the Premier League and the Government, telling managers which players we can use when they return and how the competition is going to be.

‘Some clubs will have nearly all their players going to national teams, others will not have as many. There are national teams who will hold their training camps outside their own countries.

‘Imagine the confusion – players travelling all over the world, joining different teams, some unable to train in their own countries. The mistakes are continuing. Take it all together and you see the mess it has created.’

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