- A Brazil vs. Argentina soccer match was abandoned Sunday when officials tried to deport players.
- The players had been accused of not quarantining when entering the country as required.
- The Argentine Football Association denies its players had broken any rules.
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A World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Argentina on Sunday was abandoned just minutes after kick-off after health officials stormed the pitch to deport four players who had failed to comply with COVID-19 rules.
The four Premier League players – Aston Villa duo Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez, as well as Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero – were supposed to quarantine upon arrival in Brazil.
Under Brazilian rules, visitors who have been in the United Kingdom two weeks prior to arrival must quarantine for 14 days.
Argentina seemingly bosses ignored the warning, however, with Martinez, Lo Celso, and Romero all starting the game.
As a result, just seven minutes into the match, government officials in suits walked onto the pitch to tell the referee to stop the game.
After almost an hour of lengthy discussions between the teams and CONMEBOL – South America’s Football Confederation – the match was called off.
—roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 5, 2021
“By decision of the match referee, the match organized by Fifa between Brazil and Argentina for the World Cup Qualifiers is suspended,” a tweet from CONMEBOL said.
“The referee and the match commissioner will submit a report to the Fifa Disciplinary Committee, which will determine the steps to be followed. These procedures strictly adhere to current regulations.”
Antonio Barra Torres, director at Brazil’s health regulator ANVISA, said on Brazilian television, according to BBC Sport: “We got to this point because everything that ANVISA directed, from the first moment, was not fulfilled.
“[The four players] were directed to remain isolated while awaiting deportation, but they did not comply. They went to the stadium and they entered the field, in a series of breaches.”
The Argentine Football Association said the team had been in Brazil since September 3 and had complied with all the health protocols.
ANVISA left it until three hours before kick-off in Sao Paulo to issue a statement saying the four players needed to quarantine.
“Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition,” it said.
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni added: “It makes me very sad. I am not looking for any culprit. If something happened or did not happen, it was not the time to make that intervention.
“It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players.
“At no time were we notified that they couldn’t play the match. We wanted to play the match, the Brazilian footballers too.”