Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Arsenal will deny players going into ‘red-zone’ countries the opportunity to go on international duty this month.
Amidst the current pandemic, some countries have been listed as ‘red-zone‘ countries, meaning anyone travelling from those zones into the UK will have to self-isolate for 10 days.
Speaking ahead of the Europa League tie against Olympiacos, the Spaniard spoke out against having more national team games in March, claiming it’s ‘too much’.
Arteta said: “I think it’s a bit too much in general, in a normal year. This year, I think it becomes something really dangerous. The amount of minutes these boys have played in such a short time with no preparation, I don’t think it’s right. The ones that are going to be in red zone countries obviously won’t be able to play those games or those fixtures.
“The rest, we have to allow them to go if they are fit and we will stick to the protocols and all the guidance that we have to let our players go when they are safe.”
Are Arsenal right to stop players going on int'l duty?
Given how bad the current pandemic has proven to be, it proves wholly irresponsible the likes of UEFA, FIFA and all international federations have allowed for fixtures away from club football. The risks posed by potentially travelling into countries that possess a high count of cases and then back to your club prove far too high.
Arteta and Arsenal’s stance on the international break is the right one as it protects the interests of both the club’s and the UK.
From a footballing perspective, the north London giants can ill-afford to have any games called off with a real lack of space in the current schedule. Arsenal will have just two weeks free from midweek fixtures from now until the day of the Europa League final.
We’ve already seen what can happen when a club is forced into extreme lockdown due to an uprise in cases with the example of Aston Villa. After an outbreak at their Bodymoor training ground, the Villains‘ first-team squad missed two games leaving them with fixtures to make up.
You feel the Midlands side can cope with such an issue given the fact they have no European commitments. However, with Arsenal chasing glory in the second-tier of European football, they can ill-afford cancellations. Arteta and the club deserve a pat on the back for what is a hardline stance on gross incompetence.