World Cup Qualifiers: Brazil-Argentina match suspended over COVID-19 dispute
In a major development, a World Cup qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina was suspended after Brazilian health officials raised objections related to COVID-19. The officials, who claimed that four Argentine players broke quarantine rules, entered the pitch minutes after kick-off at Corinthians Arena to stop the game. They urged players from Argentina to pull out. Here are further details.
The statements by CONMEBOL and FIFA
"The referee and the match official will take a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and they will decide what steps to take," read a statement by CONMEBOL. In another statement, FIFA said it "confirm that following a decision by the match officials, the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match Brazil vs Argentina has been suspended. Further details will follow in due course."
'A serious health risk', said the Brazilian health authority
Following the match, the Brazilian health authority, in a statement, declared the situation as "a serious health risk". The local health authorities then ordered to quarantine the players. "After a meeting with the health authorities it was decided that, after checking the passports of the four players involved, the players did not comply with the rules of entry into Brazilian soil," the statement added.
Players were bemused with the stoppage
After the stoppage, the players went back to the dressing room. However, Argentina captain Lionel Messi and a few Brazilian players, continued to discuss the issue at the side of the pitch. "Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes? We've been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us," Messi said, as heard on television.
Four Argentina players were told to isolate
The entire incident folded just hours after Brazil's health regulator, Anvisa, said four Argentine players, Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso, and Cristian Romero, should isolate and not appear for the match.
The players didn't provide adequate information
Under Brazilian protocols, visitors who have been in the UK 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Anvisa was told that the four players, who are also part of the English Premier League, didn't state that information on their immigration forms. The health regulator confirmed the details given by the players were "false".
WC Qualifiers: Brazil lead the CONMEBOL table
Brazil presently lead the South American qualifying group for Qatar World Cup 2022. They have won all seven games so far and top the group with 21 points. Argentina are placed second with four wins and three draws (15 points). The likes of Ecuador, Uruguay, Colombia, and Paraguay follow them on the points table. Notably, the top four teams will qualify automatically for Qatar.