Football: CAS rejects La Liga appeal over World Cup qualifiers extension

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid agreed not to release their players for international duty. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (REUTERS) - Football clubs in Spain's La Liga 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 (Oct 29).

LaLiga had appealed against global football 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.

It 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 Sept 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 v Celta Vigo and Espanyol v Atletico from Saturday, Sept 11 to Sunday and requesting that Sevilla v Barcelona and Villarreal v Alaves, both set for Sept 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.

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