World Cup qualifier: Bizarre halt to big game between Argentina and Brazil
A World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil was suspended amid farcical scenes on Sunday after Brazilian health authorities accused a number of Premier League players of violating the country’s Covid-19 quarantine rules.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham duo of Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso were on the Neo Quimica Arena pitch as part of the Argentine line-up when officials from Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa invaded the pitch and stopped the game around five minutes after kick-off.
The trio, along with Aston Villa’s Emiliano Buendia, who was in the stands, had reportedly breached Brazilian rules stating that travellers who have been in the UK, South Africa or India during the previous 14 days are forbidden from entering the country, unless they are Brazilian citizens or have permanent residency.
“Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?” Argentina’s Lionel Messi said in comments heard on television. “We’ve been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us.”
Messi then returned to the dressing room and at 5pm local time the match was officially suspended.
Fifa has opened an investigation into the postponement of the game with their president Gianni Infantino labelling the events “crazy”.