Brazil-Argentina clash abandoned following Covid controversy

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Brazil’s World Cup qualifying clash against Argentina was
sensationally abandoned shortly after kick-off on Sunday as controversy over
Covid-19 protocols erupted.

Amid incredible scenes at Sao Paulo’s Neo Quimica Arena, the
match between the two giants of South American football was halted when
Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch, triggering a melee involving
team officials and players from both sides.

The stunning intervention came just hours after health
authorities in Brazil said four England-based players in Argentina’s squad
should be placed in “immediate quarantine” for breaching Covid-19
protocols.

The sides were just seven minutes into the match, which was
played in front of only 1,500 spectators because of coronavirus restrictions.

According to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency
(ANVISA), the Premier League players — Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of
Tottenham, and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia — provided
“false information” upon their entry to Brazil.

Romero, Lo Celso and Martinez were all in Argentina’s
starting line-up for Sunday’s game — prompting the surreal intervention of
ANVISA officials.

The four players were accused of failing to disclose that
they had spent time in the United Kingdom in the 14 days before they arrived in
Brazil, where Covid-19 has claimed more than 580,000 lives.

The controversy comes after nine Brazilians based in the
Premier League failed to travel to South America following objections from
their clubs.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his teammates trooped off
the field as confusion reigned over the fate of the game.

Soon, Brazil’s squad began a practice game on the pitch.

Messi later hit out at the intervention by Brazilian
officials.

“We’ve been here for three days, why are you doing this
just now?” he said on Argentina’s TyC network.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was similarly incensed,
telling media that “at no time were we told that they could not play the
game.”

The Argentina team arrived back in Buenos Aires during
Monday’s early hours.

Argentina Football Association president Claudio Tapia said
the federation had followed FIFA protocols for the game, pushing back at the claim
that players had falsified entry records.

“It is not possible to speak of any lie,” Tapia
said.

‘Series of breaches’

Brazilian officials were unrepentant about the decision to
halt the game however.

“We got to this point because everything that ANVISA
directed, from the first moment, was not fulfilled,” ANVISA director
Antonio Barra Torres said on Brazilian television.

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.

A government order dating from June 23 prohibits the entry
into Brazilian territory of any foreign person from the United Kingdom, India
or South Africa, to prevent the spread of variants of the coronavirus.

“ANVISA considers that this situation represents a
serious health risk and recommends that the local health authorities (of Sao
Paulo) order the immediate quarantine of the players, who are prohibited from
taking part in any activity and from remaining on Brazilian territory,”
the agency said in a statement earlier Sunday.

The agency also said Argentina’s delegation had been warned
in a meeting on Saturday that the players at the centre of the controversy must
be quarantined and should not play any part in Sunday’s game.

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL said in a
statement that the game had been “suspended” but did not say when or
if the match would be replayed, or whether either team would forfeit the game.

“By decision of the match referee, the match organized
by FIFA between Brazil and Argentina for the qualifiers for the World Cup is
suspended,” CONMEBOL said in a statement.

“The referee and the match commissioner will submit a
report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which will determine the steps to
follow. These procedures adhere strictly to current regulations.”

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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