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Everton’s ‘good relationship’ with Brazil meant Richarlison escaped ban

The decision to let the striker head to Tokyo has worked in their favour

Brighton & Hove Albion v Everton - Premier League Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Rafael Benitez admits Everton’s “very good relationship’ with the Brazilian FA meant Richarlison escaped a ban that is set to rule out a host of Premier League players this weekend.

Eight clubs including Everton refused to release their South American players for the September internationals because UK coronavirus restrictions meant they would have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return.

The four nations involved, including Brazil, requested FIFA invoke their five-day rule in response, which effectively bans players for five days after the end of the international window. The rule is in place to prevent clubs from tactically withdrawing their players in order to protect them for league games immediately after the fixtures.

Liverpool’s Alisson and Fabinho and Manchester City duo Ederson and Gabriel Jesus are among those set to be unavailable - but Richarlison is in the clear.

The Brazilian FA opted not to request the Toffees striker be banned because Everton allowed him to play in the Olympics last month when they were not obligated to do so.

Everton were reluctant to let Richarlison head to Tokyo given he had already played at the Copa America so would not have a summer break, but relented because of his desire to play at the Games.

It meant the 24-year-old had no rest at all - returning to Premier League action just days after returning to Japan - but Everton’s generosity looks to have worked in their favour.

It means Richarlison has been able to at least gain some rest ahead of the meeting with Burnley on Monday, while some of his international team-mates will have to sit this weekend out.

Asked about Richarlison’s situation, Benitez told reporters as his usual Friday news conference:

“I think we are in a much better position than anyone because when we allowed him to go to the Olympic Games we were in contact with them (Brazilian FA).

“We told them it was a complicated situation for us but we could understand how important the Olympic Games were for the association.

“We have a very good relationship with them and they said they understand and Richarlison was not an issue.

“Maybe other players but not Richarlison because we are good with them and they are good with us at the moment.”

The Premier League, FA and FIFA have been in talks over the issue but a solution has yet to be found.

Paraguay and Mexico have withdrawn their complaints, meaning Wolves’ Raul Jimenez and Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron are available, but Brazil are standing firm.

With two more international windows to come before the end of the year, this has the potential to get very messy.