Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak has urged FIFA to overturn the suspension of Group C opponent Peru's captain, penning a letter of support alongside the captains of France and Denmark.
Peru striker Paolo Guerrero is set to miss the 2018 World Cup in Russia due to a drug ban after testing positive for a cocaine metabolite in October 2017. Guerrero's participation in his country's first World Cup appearance in 36 years has been in limbo since his positive test.
His initial one-year ban was reduced to six months – allowing him to play in Russia – before the World Anti-Doping Agency recommended extending the ban to 14 months, ruling the Peru captain out of the tournament.
The situation prompted Jedinak, France captain Hugo Lloris and Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer to write an open letter to FIFA urging them to grant clemency for Guerrero. The letter was arranged by global players' union FIFPro and also includes the signature of John Didulica – head of the Australian players' union, the PFA.
"Given the exceptional circumstances which pertain to this matter, we respectfully ask the FIFA Council to show compassion with Paolo Guerrero who has given his utmost for his national team since 2004 and has recently achieved one of the highest possible honours for any national team player – qualifying for the FIFA World Cup," the letter reads.
"In our view, it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career – an achievement he has worked so hard for, and for so many years – on the basis of a finding which confirms that he did not intend to cheat and did not intend to enhance his performance with prohibited substances.
"As such, we turn to the FIFA Council and kindly put forward an urgent request for clemency by asking the FIFA Council to temporarily interrupt the ban imposed on Paolo Guerrero during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with the suspension to recommence at the conclusion of Peru's participation in the competition."
Australia plays Peru on June 27 (AEST) in Sochi in their final group match of the 2018 World Cup. Guerrero, 34, has scored 32 goals in 86 appearances for his country. He currently plays his club football for Brazilian side Flamengo and previously held stints with Bayern Munich, Hamburg and Corinthians.
Dominic Bossi is a football reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
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