Brazil’s match with Argentina descended into farce after health officials invaded the pitch to deport four Premier League players for allegedly providing false information around their travel from the UK.
Aston Villa’s Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez as well as Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero had all been told to isolate just two hours before their World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo. Argentina bosses ignored the warning, however, with Martínez, Romero and Lo Celso all starting the match. As a result, just 10 minutes in an army of men in suits walked on to tell the referee to stop the game.
Authorities had earlier demanded the players should quarantine and leave the country immediately. The intervention from Anvisa, the Brazilian health governing body, is the latest twist in a saga that saw Brazil react with anger last week over a Premier League pact to stop players travelling to countries on the UK Government’s red list due to the subsequent impact on quarantining.
Spurs and Villa inexplicably broke the agreement by releasing the four Argentine players, but Brazil had been deprived of star names due to Liverpool and Manchester City keeping their South American talent in the UK.
The Argentine national team had flown into Brazil on Friday, the day after beating Venezuela 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Caracas. However, Anvisa left it until three hours before kick off in Sao Paulo to issue a statement saying the four players should have quarantined on arrival in Brazil because the UK is on its own red list.
“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.
After health officials in suits walked on to the pitch, the Argentina players were led back towards the changing rooms, while Brazilian players were seen in extensive discussions with the referee and men in suits on the sidelines.
The scenes come a week after the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City held firm over their refusal to release players for World Cup qualifiers in countries deemed high risk. That provoked fury in Brazil, who are without Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Ederson, Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Fred (Manchester United), Richarlison (Everton) and Raphinha (Leeds).
Brazil, however, deems the UK just as risky a destination over its high Covid-19 rates. 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.
Anvisa said it was tipped off that the four players did not state that information on their immigration forms and on Sunday said they confirmed the details given were “false”. Spokespeople for both the Argentine team and CONMEBOL – the South American Football Confederation – did not respond to requests for comment.
In Anvisa’s earlier statement, the agency said the players had supplied “false information in an official form of the Brazilian sanitary authority”.
“After a meeting with the health authorities, it was confirmed, after consulting the passports of the four players involved, that the athletes failed to comply with the rule for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil, provided for in Interministerial Ordinance No. 655, of 2021, which provides that foreign travellers who have passed through the United Kingdom, South Africa, Northern Ireland and India in the last 14 days, are prevented from entering Brazil.
“The players in question declared that they have not passed through any of the four countries with restrictions in the last 14 days. The travellers arrived in Brazil by flight from Caracas/Venezuela to Guarulhos. However, unofficial news reached Anvisa reporting alleged false statements made by such travellers… Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk, and therefore advised the local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of players, who are prevented from participating in any activity and must be prevented from remaining in Brazilian territory, pursuant to art. 11, of Federal Law No. 6437/77.”
Martinez and Lo Celso are key members of the Argentina team. The four are already facing quarantine and extra testing when they return to the UK. The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by Telegraph Sport.
Source: Yahoo Sports