The football world was stunned on Sunday, September 5, 2021, when Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch during Brazil vs Argentina match in an attempt to ask four of Argentina’s Premier League-based players to vacate the stadium.
At that point, Brazil vs Argentina match had already started. The teams have played over five minutes and were not expecting any interference or whatsoever. To the dismay of the Argentine side, the health workers gave the referee no choice but to halt the game since they have already entered the pitch.
Their reason was that Argentina allowed four of their players from the English Premier League to play the game without undergoing a compulsory 14 days quarantine based on Covid-19 regulation in Brazil. The regulation states that anyone who arrives in Brazil from the United Kingdom must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
The four Premier League players in question are Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham.
After a series of back and forth, the match was abandoned and the Argentina national team had to be escorted out of the country due to the four Premier League players.
Lionel Messi who was strong enough to play the game after suffering a hard knock from Venezuela’s Adrian Martinez on Friday, September 3, stressed that the health workers should have raised the concern before the kick-off of the game.
The 34-year-old Paris Saint Germain August recruit was heard arguing that Argentina have been in Brazil about three days before the game and no health official raised any health risk concern.
He said: “Listen to me, we’ve been here [in Brazil] for three days. Were they waiting for the game to start to come here? Why didn’t they warn us before?”
Also, Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia, argued that the football association has always followed the health protocols of the South America football confederation and described how the World Cup qualifier ended as tragic.
“As AFA president, I am very sorry for the suspension of what was to be a party for South American football”, he wrote via a series of tweets on Sunday.
“We have always been guided by the current CONMEBOL health legislation. We await the resolution of FIFA’s Disciplinary Court.
“Four people interrupted the game for something that we do not understand.
“There is health legislation through which all tournaments are played, in which the authorities of each country approve a protocol that is in force and signed by the 10 associations, and that we follow to the extreme. What happened is unfortunate for football, a very bad image for the world.”
🚨⚽️ | NEW: Footage shows Brazilian officials entering the pitch during the Brazil vs Argentina game to allegedly detain 4 Argentinian players who had entered the country from England pic.twitter.com/3X0PkNghmN— Football For All (@FootballlForAll) September 5, 2021
Contrary to the argument of Lionel Messi and AFA president, Brazilian health authority, Avinsa, director Antonio Barra Torres claimed that the players in question were notified before the game that they had to isolate and did not do so.
“They had to remain isolated in the hotel until they could return to their country, but instead they went to the stadium to play the game,” he said. “We informed the players that they had to comply with these regulations. They did not do so.”
As for the world football governing body, FIFA, the body has revealed that it has received the official match report and a decision would be taken soon.
On the other hand, FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke to European Club Association urging them to appropriately deal with the challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
His call for the cooperation of the clubs is linked to the decision of the Premier League clubs not to allow their players to join their national teams for the World Cup qualifiers due to Covid-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom.
Infantino said: “We saw what happened with the game between Brazil and Argentine, two of South America’s most glorious teams. Some officials, police, security officials entered the pitch after a few minutes of the game to take away some players — it is crazy but we need to deal with these challenges, these issues which come on top of the COVID crisis.”
Lionel Messi and his Argentine team are currently in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, preparing for the World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia. The match is scheduled to kick off at 00:30 on Friday, September 10, 2021, at the El Monumental stadium.