The Corinthians Arena in Brazil witnessed several minutes of chaos as the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended just five minutes after kick-off on health grounds.
The Brazilian health officials stormed onto the field and confronted the Argentina players as they objected to the participation of three Premier League-bound players. The officials believed the players broke the country’s quarantine rules.
Why was Brazil vs Argentina suspended?
The United Kingdom is one of the countries on Brazil's red list, and those travelling from the UK must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Although no names were made official, the players in question were Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa, and Giovani lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur. Martinez, lo Celso and Romero were all named in the starting XI, while Buendia failed to make it to the matchday squad.
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said that his team was not notified about anything and both set of players were looking forward to the match.
"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.
"At no time were we notified that they couldn't play the match. We wanted to play the match, the Brazilian footballers too."
A longer video showing the scenes early on in the Brazil v Argentina game which has been suspended. Crazy. pic.twitter.com/bbcE2IqWjT— Tom Carnduff (@TomC_22) September 5, 2021
A statement from the head of the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency however stated that the federal police was sent to the team hotel where the Argentine players were staying, but by the time they reached, the players had already left for the stadium.
"It was necessary to keep our sanitary protocol," said Antonio Barra Torres, the head of the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (via Rede Globo). "We called the federal police, that went to the hotel and we found out that they had already left for the Stadium. The rest is what you're watching live."
According to goal.com, the Argentine quartet is accused of giving false information to the health authorities. The players declared that they had only been to Caracas; Argentina’s destination of their previous World Cup qualifier against Venezuela, and did not reveal the information that they had been in the UK to immigration and health authorities.
Argentina have been in Brazil since September 3 and the country’s football association said that the players complied with all the health protocols. Nevertheless, the match was called off and FIFA will now gather evidence from all sides before taking any further action.
Featured photo: AFP / Nelson Almeida