Brazil forwards Malcom, Claudinho to miss World Cup qualifiers

RIO DE JANEIRO: SEPT 2 – Zenit Saint Petersburg forwards Malcom and Claudinho will miss Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers against Chile, Argentina and Peru after the Russian club ordered their return to the country, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on Wednesday.

The announcement means 11 of the 34 players selected for the matches by Brazil manager Tite are unavailable. Nine Premier League players had already been ruled out after their clubs refused to release them because of Britain’s strict quarantine requirements for travellers arriving from South America.

“The CBF, supported by FIFA rules, spoke with the players and explained that they could not suffer any of the sanctions threatened by [Zenit],” read a statement on the confederation’s website.

“Even after some conversations with national team coordinator Juninho Paulista and head coach Tite, they decided to return [to Russia].”

The CBF said it had sent an official complaint to world football’s governing body FIFA, requesting that action be taken against Zenit Saint Petersburg.

“We have appealed to [FIFA] so that, in line with its regulations, all punishments applicable to Zenit are complied with,” the CBF said.

Zenit Saint Petersburg did not immediately comment on the decision.

Brazil will meet Chile away on Thursday before home clashes against Argentina and Peru on September 5 and 9.

The five-time world champions currently lead the South American zone standings with six wins from as many matches. The top four teams at the end of the qualifying tournament will earn an automatic berth at next year’s World Cup in Qatar while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental playoff.