Brazil vs Argentina World Cup Qualifier game suspended

Health officials ran onto the field Sunday night shortly after the Brazil vs Argentina game began, accusing Argentina players of breaking Covid protocols.

The Brazil and Argentina World Cup Qualifier game on Sunday ended as quickly as it began, when health officials entered the field to stop the game over Covid rules.

The president of Brazil's health agency Anvisa Antonio Barra Torres, said there were four Argentina players who did not follow Brazil's Covid protocols. Under the Brazilian rules, visitors who have spent time in the UK in the 14 days prior to entering must quarantine for 14 days. Torres said those players would be fined and deported. Just hours before the game began, Anvisa was seeking the immediate isolation of those four players. Though they did not name the players, the four who were in the UK playing for the Premier League are Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham. All except for Buendia were planning to start for the team. Aston Villa had said Martinez and Buendia would return to the club after the game against Brazil and miss the following game against Bolivia. The AFA, however, had said they would play in all three.

The commotion came after Anvisa was tipped off that the players hadn't reported that they'd been in the UK on their immigration forms, and so are accused of lying and breaking health protocols. Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said that they were never informed that there were players who couldn't play. "We wanted to play the game, as did the Brazil players," he said.

After the officials came onto the field just after kick-off, the Argentina players left the field and the managers, Brazil's players, and Argentina captain Lionel Messi attempted, in vain, to negotiate with the authorities.

CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation confirmed that the game had been called off by the referee who would submit a disciplinary report to FIFA. FIFA then confirmed the suspension, stating that further details would be released at a later time.

Covid restrictions causing hostility and tension in South America

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) expressed concern over the suspension and said the team had complied with all the health protocols since they arrived on September 3rd. AFA president Claudio Tapia was indignant, saying that his players had not lied. "There can't be any talk of lies here because there is health legislation under which all South American competitions are played," Tapia said.

Tensions were already high in South America as Covid restrictions have kept several teams from using key players in the World Cup Qualifiers.

"What's happened today is terrible for football and sends out a very bad image," said Tapia. "Four people interrupted the game to inform us of something and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the dressing room.