Brazilian Health Officials Storm Pitch, Halt World Cup Qualifier against Argentina

A World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended on Sunday after Brazilian health officials said Argentina players had broken quarantine rules.

The World Cup qualifier was stopped just seven minutes into the game, as health authorities came onto the pitch to halt proceedings.

On Sunday evening it was reported that Brazilian police had been ordered to deport four Argentina players who had travelled with the squad, all from the Premier League.

According to current regulations in the country, Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero were all meant to quarantine for 14 days before entering.

Their failure to do so threatened to stop their appearance in the game, although CONMEBOL claimed they would award Argentina the points if the game didn’t go ahead.

Martinez, Lo Celoso and Romero all started the game but less than 10 minutes into the game authorities entered the pitch and demanded a stop to proceedings.

Premier League teams had initially tried to stop their players from going to South America to take part in the three games during the international break.

Countries in that region are on the UK’s ‘red list’ which means people going there must quarantine for 10 days when they arrive back.

The players were surprised at the encroachment on Sunday and the Argentines quickly left the field, although the two coaches, along with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Brazilian players, gathered at the side of the pitch a few moments later to discuss the stop in play.
“Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?” Messi asked in comments heard on television. “We’ve been here at the stadium for an hour. They could have told us.”

Messi returned to the dressing room and at 5pm local time, an hour after it began, the match was officially suspended.

“The referee and the match official will take a report to the Fifa Disciplinary Committee and they will decide what steps to take,” the South American Football Confederation said.

Brazil lead the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022, six points ahead of second-placed Argentina. The top four qualify automatically for Qatar.