FIFA has performed a u-turn on its’ own rule, to clear a number of Welsh players to play for their clubs three days before their international fixture with Azerbaijan.
Wales had been insisting that Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, Mark Pembridge, Andy Melville and John Hartson all joined up with the national team on Saturday evening, although their clubs wanted them to play the following day.
However, after initially backing Wales’ stance, FIFA has backed down on their four-day rule.
A FIFA spokesman confirmed that an amendment had been incorporated into existing statutes. This means that for match days set aside for friendly internationals, players could be called up as late as 48 hours in advance.
Because this month’s international date had been originally designated for friendlies, Wales have been informed that they cannot now invoke the four-day rule. The match in Azerbaijan had been originally scheduled for last June but was moved after concerns about the high tremperatures expected at that time of year.
FIFA’s change to the call-up rules now states: “In certain circumstances it may be necessary to play a qualifying match for an international competition on a date initially set for friendly matches.
“In this event, if a player is called up, he must be released to the national association… the period of relase, however, shall only be 48 hours.”
The change of heart is sure to infuriate Wales, who have begun their qualifying campiagn in impressive style, recording victories over Finland and Italy.