After three people who were not compliant with coronavirus restrictions, local health officials entered the pitch to suspend a World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil.
Due to the interruption, the match between Brazil’s Neymar and Lionel Messi of Argentina was stopped in 7 minutes. After several minutes of arguing between players, coaches and officials, the referee decided to suspend the match with the score at zero.
Brazil’s health ministry said that three of the England-based players from Argentina should have been placed in quarantine rather than participating in the match. FIFA will decide what happens with the qualifier.
Antonio Barra Torres (president of Brazil’s Anvisa health agency), said that four Argentina players would face deportation and a fine for violating Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols.
Brazil’s health agency had ordered the four to be quarantined before the match. Three of the four began for Argentina despite that order.
Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martnez and Emiliano Buendia, and Tottenham’s Giovanni Lo Celso & Cristian Romero both joined the Argentina squad despite Premier League’s insistence that players not be allowed to leave for international duty. This is due to the requirement to quarantine them for 10 days at a hotel upon their return. Brazil’s quarantine restrictions added another layer to the problem.
On Sunday night, the Argentina football federation tweeted “We are heading home!” with a photo of the squad including Emiliano Martinez, Buendia and boarding a plane for Buenos Aires.
TV Globo reported the four England-based footballers told Brazilian police they didn’t fill out their entry forms upon arrival. According to the report, the footballers were not deported but allowed to fly home with their team.
Brazil’s health agency stated that all four of them allegedly told immigration officers they had not been to Britain in the past 14 days. Brazil will quarantine those who have visited countries on the red list.
The match was started by Martinez, Romero, and Lo Celso.
Anvisa, there was a meeting on Saturday between regional and national football representatives in order to discuss the quarantine situation.
Anvisa stated that Anvisa and the local health authorities decided that players should be quarantined after that meeting. “However, even though the meeting was over, and authorities had given their report, the players still attended Saturday’s training session.”
According to the agency, attempts to remove the players from the plane and transport them to the airport on Sunday were unsuccessful.
Anvisa was not able to make the decision to stop the match. The Brazilian agency stated that it was necessary to intervene if players were not compliant with Brazilian laws or health norms and provided false information to authorities.
Brazilian TV showed many exchanges between coaches and players during the chaos. Brazil coach Tite appeared to be the most upset.
They had 72 hours to prepare for the match. They had to do this at the match!” Tite shouted at Anvisa agents.
Lionel Messi sounded also annoyed. The Argentine captain reiterated, “They didn’t talk to us before that.”
Brazil summoned nine Premier League players to the World Cup qualifiers in September, but they were not allowed to travel to South America due the restrictions.
Lionel Scaloni, Argentina coach, said that both teams would love to play the match.
“A match between the best players in the world ends this way. I want people to know that I am a coach and must take care of my players in Argentina. Scaloni stated that if people want to deport my players, they will not be allowed,” Scaloni said to channel TyC Sports. “We wanted the match to be played, but the Brazilians refused.”
Both national soccer associations made statements criticizing Brazil’s move to close its health agency. Brazil’s players continued to play on the field even after Argentina left and began training exercises. Argentinians, even those who were considered high-risk COVID-19, stayed longer than three hours in the dressing room before they went to the airport.