Brazil’s match with Argentina in World Cup qualifying descended into a farce after Brazilian health officials appeared on the pitch during the game – apparently in an attempt to deport four opposition players due to a breach of Covid regulations.
Covid rules in Brazil state that arrivals from the UK must quarantine for 14 days, prompting the country’s health regulator Anvisa to demand the immediate isolation of four players before kick-off who had not followed procedure.
However, officials waited until after the match had kicked off before taking action, appearing on the side of the pitch with just a handful of minutes played before confronting some players.
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What followed was pandemonium. After a huge on-pitch row, Argentina's players disappeared down the tunnel while Brazil stood around awkwardly for an hour. Eventually, the match was abandoned.
- Brazil v Argentina, as it happened: World Cup qualifier abandoned after health officials storm pitch
Although the four players were not named, Emi Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Emi Buendia all play for Premier League clubs. Brazil were without their Premier League stars.
Health staff members argue with Head coach of Argentina Lionel Scaloni (C) and players of Brazil and Argentina
Image credit: Getty Images
"It makes me very sad," said Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni.
"I am not looking for any culprit. If something happened or did not happen, it was not the time to make that intervention. It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world.
"I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players. At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the match, the Brazilian footballers too."
To complete the sorry episode, Brazil hosted an open training session at Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo.
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