Tottenham Hotspur are poised to fine Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso after it emerged the pair did not receive permission to meet up with the Argentina squad and Spurs were made to sweat over their release.
There were fears that Romero and Lo Celso may not be released from international duty with Aston Villa pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, meaning they would have missed more than just one Tottenham game. But the Argentine Federation eventually put out a statement confirming they would not take part in Friday’s game against Bolivia.
Romero, a £42.5m summer signing from Atalanta, and Lo Celso are two of the four Premier League players at the centre of the remarkable World Cup qualifying coronavirus row between Argentina and Brazil.
But while Villa had given their Argentina duo, Martínez and Buendia, permission to play in the fixture that was suspended, Telegraph Sport can reveal Spurs did not give the green light for Romero and Lo Celso to travel.
The Argentine Football Federation first confirmed that Martinez and Buendia had been released from international duty and would not be involved in the Bolivia game. The duo were expected to travel to Croatia to serve their period of isolation, so they could continue to train and not have to stay in a quarantine hotel. They should only miss Villa’s trip to Chelsea on Saturday.
There was no official word on Romero and Lo Celso until Monday evening, amid fears the Argentine Federation had been trying to keep hold of them because Spurs had not agreed to their release and had instead been forced to accept the word of their players that, like Martinez and Buendia, they would start their return to the UK after the Brazil game.
Tottenham eventually received confirmation of their release, but were thought to be furious with the situation, given Romero and Lo Celso will definitely miss Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
Davinson Sanchez also went against Tottenham’s wishes by accepting his call-up to the Colombia squad and he too can expect a club fine, but the defender was also released in time to miss only the Palace game.
Like Martinez and Buendia, Romero, Lo Celso and Sanchez will spend their 10-day quarantine training in Croatia before completing their return to the UK.
Premier League clubs had unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red list countries due to Fifa’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.
Villa struck an agreement with the Argentine Federation after being backed into a corner by the wishes of their players, but Spurs did not sanction the release of Romero and Lo Celso..
And their worst fears were realised on Sunday night, when Brazilian health officials claimed Argentina’s Premier League players had broken quarantine rules to play against Brazil by not declaring they had been in the UK in the past.
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.
Speaking to Argentine media, Martinez remarkably claimed Villa had been unaware of the Brazilian quarantine rules when agreeing to his release and confirmed he was ready to accept any consequences for his actions.
“Aston Villa did not understand the Brazilian regulations and why it happened,” said Martinez. “It’s not something the world expected to see.”
Speaking to TyC Sports, he added: “The four of us decided to come for the love for the shirt, even though all the Premier League did not want to come, we decided to come anyway. After winning the Copa América, the whole team wants to be with the group, not just give the national team a victory. It’s something beautiful that we have and we assume the consequences.”
Telegraph Sport understands the Premier League is in contact with the clubs, the Football Association and Fifa to ensure a similar furore does not arise during the next international break in October.
Fifa is likely to take until the end of the week to unravel the confusing scenes that led to health authorities invading the Neo Química Arena to haul off the Argentina team.
Sources close to the governing body ruled out immediate disciplinary action, as officials are attempting to piece together what was and was not filled out in terms of forms handed by the team to border forces.
With the match almost impossible to rearrange within the current international window, Argentina now face a nervous wait to find out whether points will be forfeited in favour of Brazil.
The governing body, meanwhile, said in a statement: “Fifa regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match… which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world.
“The first match official reports have been sent to Fifa. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course.”
Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, added that the scenes in Sao Paulo were “crazy”.
In a video address to the European Club Association’s general assembly, he said the situation was a reminder of the difficulties the organisation had been facing during the pandemic.
“We saw what happened with the game between Brazil and Argentina, two of South America’s most glorious teams,” he added. “Some officials, police, security officials entered the pitch after a few minutes of the game to take away some players – it is crazy but we need to deal with these challenges, these issues which come on top of the Covid crisis.”
Source: Yahoo Sports