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SPORTS | 06-09-2021 11:26

FIFA 'regrets' chaos at abandoned Brazil v Argentina match

Sunday's match at São Paulo's Neo Quimica Arena on Sunday was halted when Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch seven minutes after kick-off.

FIFA said Monday it regretted the chaotic scenes that preceded the suspension of the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina and a decision on possible disciplinary action would be taken "in due course."

The match at São Paulo's Neo Quimica Arena on Sunday was halted when Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch seven minutes after kick-off, triggering a melee involving team officials and players from both sides.

The officials intervened just hours after health authorities in Brazil said four England-based players in the Albiceleste squad should be placed in "immediate quarantine" for breaching Covid-19 protocols.

"FIFA regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022 which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world," football's world governing body said in a statement.

"The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course," FIFA added.

Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) said the Premier League players – Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa's Emiliano Martínez and Emiliano Buendía – had given "false information" when they entered Brazil.

Romero, Lo Celso and Martínez were all in the Albiceleste's starting line-up for Sunday's game, prompting the intervention of ANVISA officials.

In scenes of confusion on the pitch, Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his teammates left the field while Brazil's squad began a practice game.

After the game was abandoned, Messi criticised the intervention of the 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 told reporters that "at no time were we told that they could not play the game."

The national team squad and staff arrived back in Buenos Aires early Monday morning, after landing at Ezeiza International Airport.

The Albiceleste play Bolivia on Thursday, but they will defeinitely be without their Martínez, the team's goalkeeper. 

The shotstopper's brother, Alejandro Martínez, told Radio Rivadavia in an interview on Monday that the player had an "arrangement" with his club side to miss the match in order to be available to play in Aston Villa's upcoming Premier League matches.

British immigration rules at present demand a 14-day quarantine period for those arriving from Argentina, so Martínez is set to fly to Croatia, where he will train for 10 days in isolation before heading to England. 

At the time of writing, it was unclear if the other three Premier League players – Buendía, Lo Celso and Romero – planned to do the same.

Thursday's match against Bolivia, at the Monumental, will be the first match played before spectators since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

– TIMES/AFP

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