Uproar as Brazil v Argentina clash abandoned following Covid controversy
Brazil’s Worldcup qualifying clash aganist Argentina was sensationally abandoned shortly after kick-off on Sunday (Sept 5) as controversy over Covid-19 protocols erupted.
Amid incredible scenes at Sao Paulo’s Neo Quimica Arena, the match between the two giants of South American football was halted when Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch, triggering a melee involving team officials and players from both sides.
The stunning intervention came just hours after health authorities in Brazil said four England-based players in Argentina’s squad should be placed in “immediate quarantine” for breaching Covid-19 protocols.
According to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), Premier League players Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa) and Cristian Romero (Tottenham) provided “false information” upon their entry to Brazil.
Romero, Lo Celso and Martinez were all in the Argentina starting line-up that kicked off Sunday’s game – prompting the surreal intervention of Anvisa officials.
The four players were accused of failing to disclose that they had spent time in the United Kingdom in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Brazil, where Covid-19 has claimed more than 580,000 lives.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his team-mates trooped off the field as confusion reigned over the fate of the game.
Messi later hit out at the intervention by Brazilian officials.
“We’ve been here for three days, why are you doing this just now?” he said on Argentina’s TyC network.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was similarly incensed, telling media that “at no time were we told that they could not play the game.”
Argentina were due to fly back to Buenos Aires later Sunday on a charter flight.
Argentina Football Association president Claudio Tapia said the federation had followed Fifa protocols for the game, pushing back at the claim that players had falsified entry records.
“It is not possible to speak of any lie,” Tapia said.