Brazil vs Argentina suspended as health officials attempt to detain visiting players mid-match

Brazil vs Argentina was suspended on Sunday night as the Brazilian Health Authorities stormed onto the pitch to detain Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero for allegedly breaking Covid-19 protocols.

Earlier, the four Argentine players from the English Premier League were ordered to quarantine by Brazil’s health agency ahead of the World Cup qualifier between the South American rivals.

Aston Villa players Martinez and Buendia, and Tottenham duo Lo Celso and Romero, came to play for Argentina despite the Premier League not wanting players to be released for international duty due to the need to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel on their return.

Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Brazil v Argentina - Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil - September 5, 2021 Players and officials are seen on the pitch as play is interrupted after Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of three Argentine players they say broke quarantine rules REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
Soccer Football – World Cup- South American Qualifiers – Brazil v Argentina – Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil – September 5, 2021 Players and officials are seen on the pitch as play is interrupted after Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of three Argentine players they say broke quarantine rules REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

The four players were still seen getting on the Argentina team bus ahead of the game. Brazil’s health agency had also instructed the four players to return to the “country of origin” without giving more details.

Now they have been caught up in Brazilian quarantine restrictions.

If Argentina & players didn’t follow required Brazilian health protocols then FIFA has to award the forfeit victory to Brazil.

Above is the official statement from the Conmebol- which reads as follows: “By decision of the match referee, the match organized by FIFA between Brazil and Argentina for the World Cup Qualifiers is suspended.

SAO PAULO, Sept 5 (Reuters) – A World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended on Sunday after Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of three Argentine players they say broke quarantine rules.

Officials with Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa walked on to the pitch at the Corinthians arena just minutes after kick off to stop the game.

The players were surprised at the encroachment and the Argentines quickly left the field, although the two coaches, along with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Brazilian players, gathered at the side of the pitch a few moments later to discuss the stoppage.

Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Brazil v Argentina - Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil - September 5, 2021 Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar during an interruption in play REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
Soccer Football – World Cup – South American Qualifiers – Brazil v Argentina – Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil – September 5, 2021 Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar during an interruption in play REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

“Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?” Messi said in comments heard on television. “We’ve been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us.”

Messi then returned to the dressing room and at 5pm local time, an hour after the game kicked off, the match was officially suspended.

“The referee and the match official will take a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and they will decide what steps to take,” said a statement issued by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).

The incident occurred just hours after Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa said four Argentine players must isolate and could not play in the match.

The three who started the match, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Martinez, were among four Argentine players who play in England’s Premier League.

Under Brazilian rules visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Brazil’s health regulator were tipped off the four did not state that information on their immigration forms and on Sunday said they confirmed the details given were “false”.

“Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil,” Anvisa said in a statement.

Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Brazil v Argentina - Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil - September 5, 2021 Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, Marcos Acuna, and Nicolas Otamendi during an interruption in play REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
Soccer Football – World Cup – South American Qualifiers – Brazil v Argentina – Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Brazil – September 5, 2021 Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, Marcos Acuna, and Nicolas Otamendi during an interruption in play REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Nevertheless, no action was taken and the three, along with Emiliano Buendia, were allowed to travel with the Argentine team from the hotel to the Corinthians arena.

Buendia and Martinez play for Aston Villa and Lo Celso and Romero are with Tottenham Hotspur.

The confusion comes amid continuing anger in South America at rules which have robbed several teams of key players for this month’s three World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil are without nine key men for Argentina game, and other South American sides have also lost players due to a decision by some European clubs not to let their players travel to the continent.

They would have to quarantine on return and the clubs do not want to lose their players for subsequent league games.

Aston Villa said the two Emilianos had agreed to return to their club after the Brazil game and miss Argentina’s game against Bolivia on Tuesday. The Argentine Football Association, however, said they would play all three games.

Brazil currently lead the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022, six points ahead of second-placed Argentina. The top four qualify automatically for Qatar.

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