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Brazil-Argentina abandoned over covid issue

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Brazil-Argentina was halted after covid health regulation issues
Argentina’s players walked off the pitch shortly after health authorities came on to stop play

Brazil and Argentina’s World Cup qualifier was abandoned just minutes after kick-off on Sunday after Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of three Argentine players they believe broke quarantine rules.

The visitors walked off the pitch at the Corinthians Arena after the officials came out to stop the game.

The dramatic intervention came hours after Brazil’s health authorities had said four England-based players for Argentina had to quarantine.

Although it did not name the four, the players with English Premier League clubs are Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa, and Giovani lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur.

Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero all started the game in Sao Paulo.

No date for the rearranged fixture has been set with Argentina players leaving to prepare for their next World Cup qualifier – at home to Bolivia on Friday, 10 September.

Fifa confirmed the suspension of the game, adding that “further details will follow in due course”.

Lionel Messi
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, centre, sought to try and get a resolution after play was initially halted

Around one hour after the game was stopped and while Brazilian players organised an impromptu training session on the pitch, South American football’s governing body Conmebol said in a statement: “By decision of the match referee, the match organized by Fifa between Brazil and Argentina for the World Cup Qualifiers is suspended.

“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.”

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.

“We got to this point because everything that ANVISA directed, from the first moment, was not fulfilled,” Antonio Barra Torres, director at Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa, said on Brazilian television, according to AFP.

“[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 official added.

‘At no time were we notified we could not play’

Brazil-Argentina was halted after covid health regulation issues
Brazil’s players started an impromptu training session after the game was suspended

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said it was disappointing a resolution could not be found before the game got under way.

“It makes me very sad,” he said. “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.”

The Argentine Football Association said the team had been in Brazil since 3 September and had complied with all the health protocols.

“Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition,” it said.

Brazilian Football Confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues criticised the health officials for the timing of their intervention.

“I feel sorry for all the sports fans who wanted to watch the game on television,” he told Brazil’s Sportv.

“With all due respect to Anvisa, they could have resolved this earlier and not waited for the game to start.”

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