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Argentine Players Flee Brazil After Premature end to World Cup Qualifier


The World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil came to a dramatic end after just five minutes when police and health officials stormed the pitch to detain some members of the Argentina national team for breaking sanitary protocols.

The quartet of Giovani Lo Celso, Emiliano Martinez, Christian Romero, and Emiliano Buendia was earlier accused of falsifying documents to be eligible for the match and Brazilian authorities enforced compulsory quarantine and deportation to this effect. A statement from local health authorities stated “Following the report that four Argentine players entered Brazil in defiance of the country’s sanitary regulations, allegedly giving false information to the Brazilian health authority, Anvisa met with representatives of the Health Ministry and Disease Control Coordination of Sao Paulo’s State Health Department”. 

“After meeting with health authorities it was confirmed, following revision of the passports of the four players involved, that the athletes broke the rules for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil, which decrees that foreign travellers who have been in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and India in the last 14 days are banned from entering Brazil. 

“The players in question declared they had not been in any of those four restricted countries in the last 14 days. They arrived in Brazil on a flight from Caracas which landed in Guarulhos (Sao Paulo). Then, unofficial reports came to Anvisa over alleged false declarations from the travelers. 

 “Anvisa considers the situation a severe health risk, and has therefore instructed local health authorities to impose immediate quarantine measures on the players, who are banned from engaging in any activity and will be unable to remain in Brazilian territory.” 

However, the Argentine players were already given the go-ahead by the CONMEBOL to proceed with the match, after a resolution seemed to have been reached. A statement from CONMEBOL general secretary Gonzalo Belloso to Clarin stated: “Our tournaments are played inside a sanitary bubble which excuses delegation from going into quarantine for 72 hours,”

“The World Cup qualifiers are played with the same model. We have told the Brazilian authorities and the CBF [Brazilian Football Confederation] who are the hosts and must guarantee the game is played.” 

Therefore, it came as a surprise to the players and staff of both national teams when officials stormed the Arena Corinthians.

“It was necessary to keep our sanitary protocol,” said Antonio Barra Torres, the head of the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (via Rede Globo). “We called the federal police, that went to the hotel and we found out that they had already left for the Stadium. The rest is what you’re watching live.”

Captain of the Argentine national team Lionel Messi led his teammates to the dugout and recent reports confirm that the players have left Brazil for fear of being detained.

The outcome of the match has not yet been determined with CONMEBOL stating that the final verdict will come from FIFA.

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