Brazil-Argentina qualifier suspended over health protocol violation

Sao Paulo, Sep 5 (EFE).- The Brazil-Argentine World Cup qualifier scheduled for Sunday at the NeoQuimica Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was suspended just minutes into the match after Brazilian authorities claimed that four Argentine players had violated the prevailing health protocols.

The two top teams in the classification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar played before 1,500 invited guests for just six minutes before Venezuelan referee Jesus Valenzuela and the field commissioners suspended the match on behalf of the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol), which left to FIFA – the organization responsible for the qualifying elimination matches – a final decision on the matter.

The decision to halt the match was taken when Brazilian health officials walked onto the pitch claiming that three Argentine players on the field had neglected to state that they recently had been in England when they arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday for the match.

The Argentine team – including team captain Lionel Messi – then walked off the pitch with the match still scoreless.

Brazil’s health authorities require that anyone having visited Britain within the past two weeks and then entering the country must quarantine for 10 days, but four Argentine players with the English Premier League failed to admit that they had been in England within the past 14 days and did not go into quarantine upon their arrival in Brazil ahead of the match.

Three of the four players were in Argentina’s starting lineup.

The four players in question were Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, both with Aston Villa, and Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, both with Tottenham, although Buendia was not playing.

After the Argentine squad left the pitch, Brazilian federal police escorted them back to their hotel, but the Brazilian players remained on the field to participate in training exercises.

Undefeated Brazil currently leads in the World Cup qualifying rounds with 21 points, followed by – likewise undefeated – Argentina, with 15 points.

The Argentine squad will depart for Buenos Aires, where they will play Bolivia on Thursday.


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