Brazil police investigating four Argentines over World Cup qualifier chaos

The Brazil-Argentina qualifier on Sunday was interrupted after seven minutes when agents of Brazil's health agency, Anvisa, insisted they should take England-based players Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso, and Cristian Romero to the airport for breaching coronavirus protocols.

Brazil and Argentina's players talk as the football match is interrupted by health authorities during a qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Neo Quimica Arena stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday.   -  AP

Four Argentina footballers are being investigated by Brazil federal police for allegedly providing false information upon arrival in Sao Paulo for a World Cup qualifying match.

The Brazil-Argentina qualifier on Sunday was interrupted after seven minutes when agents of Brazil's health agency, Anvisa, insisted they should take England-based players Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso, and Cristian Romero to the airport for breaching coronavirus protocols.

Anvisa said Argentina football officials knew since Saturday that the four players — three of whom were on the field — should not play because they were in the United Kingdom 14 days before their arrival, but did not inform authorities as required. Visitors from the U.K. have a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

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Brazil federal police confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that the four players received a notification to leave the country on Sunday night, and had to give written statements to authorities. They flew with the rest of the Argentina squad to Buenos Aires shortly after. The match was abandoned without a score.

Argentina tweeted on Monday that Martinez and Buendia were authorized to return to England so they could rejoin their club Aston Villa. It did not discuss the situation for Tottenham’s Lo Celso and Romero.

The Argentine Football Association said in a statement that it followed all health protocols. The squad arrived in Brazil on Friday morning from Caracas, where the team beat Venezuela 3-1 the night before.

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FIFA has also started an investigation. It said it has received official match reports and has passed them on to disciplinary bodies. No date for a decision has been offered, nor a date for a rematch. FIFA added it “regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match".

The arrival of the health officials on the pitch caused chaos, as arguments broke out for several minutes between the authorities, football officials, players and coaches at NeoQuimica Arena. Argentina decided to leave for the locker room, where the team stayed for hours. Brazil stayed on the pitch to train. The referee eventually suspended the qualifier.

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