Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Sao Paulo was halted on Sunday after the visiting side named three Premier League players in their starting XI, an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations. The Selecao had called up nine internationals from the English top-flight for their latest fixtures, but none of the group travelled to Brazil.
Argentina were able to include four Premier League stars, however, in Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia. Martinez and Lo Celso both played in the side’s 3-1 win against Venezuela earlier this week, but issues arose as they headed to Brazil.
The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days. Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso and Buendia – the first three were involved against Brazil – all fall under that category. Anvisa, Brazil’s health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday’s game: “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.”
When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch. A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field. Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina’s Lionel Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents.
There were few immediate updates from official sources, with both Brazil and Argentina reporting only that the game had been halted. The visiting side posted a further message to say it had been “suspended”, and Brazil’s players began to undertake a training exercise on the pitch.
Antonio Barra Torres, the CEO of Anvisa, told TV Globo: “The players, upon arriving in national territory, presented the traveller’s health declaration. “In this document, it did not say that they went through one of the three countries that are restricted. Then it was found that they passed through the UK. It was found between last night and today.
“We reached this point because everything that Anvisa guided, from the first moment, was not fulfilled. “They were instructed to remain isolated and await deportation, but this was not fulfilled. They went to the stadium and entered the field – there is a sequence of non-compliances.”