Brazil’s World Cup qualifier with Argentina erupted into chaos after ANVISA personnel and Brazilian Federal Police invaded the pitch and stopped the match to detain four Premier League players, who allegedly lied about completing quarantine upon entry to the country.
The storm has been brewing for the past few days with Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero plus Aston Villa pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, right at the centre of the controversy…
Two hours before kick-off, the Brazilian health authorities demanded the immediate deportation of Argentina’s four Premier League players, three of which were named in the starting XI.
It’s understood any non-Brazilian who has been in the United Kingdom within the past two weeks has to complete a mandatory 14-day period of isolation upon arrival in the country.
Lo Celso, Romero, Martinez and Buendia skipped quarantine three days ago, under the impression they qualify under elite sportsman but it’s believed the rules apply to anybody travelling from the UK.
All four players were snapped together on their private jet to South America earlier this week.
The Argentinian FA, who have recently been in heated discussions with Premier League clubs over the handling of their international players, were under the impression the situation would not be a problem but there has clearly been a huge misinterpretation of the strict rules that must be followed.
That’s why Lo Celso, Romero and Martinez were all named as starters but shortly after kick-off, the match transcended into utter bedlam.
Seven minutes into the game, ANVISA personnel and the Brazilian Federal Police stormed the pitch, attempting to remove the wanted players from the field with view to immediate deportation.
Following a huge commotion, Argentina then walked off the field of play, led by captain Lionel Messi, who at one point was captured with his head in his hands.
Meanwhile, ANVISA personnel were still trying to stop the four wanted players as they made their way back to the dressing room.
The Argentine FA have now confirmed the match is officially suspended.
Discussions were then ongoing behind the scenes at the stadium between ANVISA chiefs, CBF, the Argentine FA, federal police and CONMEBOL in a bid to decide how the game could be played.
Reports claim some of the Argentina squad even locked themselves in the dressing room to avoid ANVISA.
Arrangements regarding the organisation of a coach to take the Argentina team away from the stadium have also been made.
The argument between European clubs and South American nations is now set to rumble on but this was a clear indicator that the situation cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore, particularly with more international fixtures ahead before the end of the year.
Tottenham were expected Argentina to release both Lo Celso and Romero early so they could fly to Croatia to complete a short 10-day quarantine – as opposed to hotel quarantine in England – with Colombian team-mate Davinson Sanchez.
The idea was to fast-track their return to England to prevent them from missing more fixtures than required but Argentine boss Lionel Scaloni has thrown a spanner in the works by declaring he will pick them for next Friday’s World Cup qualifier versus Bolivia.
Aston Villa are also understood to be furious with the decision as they could now also lose Martinez and Buendia for crucial Premier League matches.
Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo urged the authorities to step in and help English clubs combat the issue after the 1-0 win over Watford last weekend.
“It’s a problem that doesn’t just affect us but all the clubs with South American players playing in the Premier League. We have to obey the government law,” Nuno said.
“We will try to do so but at the same time we don’t have any kind of help from FIFA, the government or the Premier League in support in this situation.
“We know what it means for all of the players to play for their national teams. It’s something they’re very proud of, so what we are trying to do is anticipate the situations.
“So expecting that not only for the next international break but also there will be a couple more, so we need to be clear.”
Culled from Daily Express.