An unbelievable story developed in South America’s premier World Cup 2022 qualifying match: officials stopped the game between Brazil and Argentina in the sixth minute, with Brazilian authorities suddenly intervening.
Local authorities came to detain the Argentine players who had ignored the quarantine: Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, Tottenham defender Christian Romero and his clubmate Giovani Lo Celso. Another Birmingham player Emiliano Buendia is in the same situation, but he was not on the pitch.
All these players are from the English Premier League, and the reason seems to be Brazil’s coronavirus rules. The country’s government is quite liberal about the entry. Still, there are three exceptions: the UK, South Africa, and India: for entrants (not Brazilian nationals) from those countries, there is a condition that they have not been to those countries in the last 14 days.
Agency officials suspect that these players have crossed the border into the country with violations. And they, of course, are right: Villa played the match on August 28 (both players were in the starting line-up), Spurs played on the 29th (both the Londoners players were in the reserves).
Allegedly, the players provided immigration officials misleading data: telling them that they haven’t been to Britain in the last 14 days, which, of course, is untrue. The Argentines were flying from Venezuela, where the national team played the previous match, but what exactly was in the documents is unknown. The Brazilian side says they should deport the offenders from the country.
“After rechecking the passports of the four players, we found that the athletes had broken the rules for entering Brazil. The players in question stated that they had not been to the banned countries in 14 days. We have since received an unofficial report that they lied.
Our agency sees the situation as a severe health risk. We have instructed local medical officials to apply immediate quarantine measures to the players. The players are not allowed to participate in any activities on Brazilian territory or even stay in the country,” the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) said in a statement.
The funny thing is that English clubs have not allowed Brazilian players to the national team because the country is on Britain’s “red list.” If you have been in Brazil for ten days before entering England, you must sit under compulsory quarantine in a specially booked hotel.
And the Argentines were let into the national team because the coaching staff persuaded the clubs and players. Aston Villa’s statement explains it all: the Argentine players were allowed to participate in 2 key World Cup selection matches, with Venezuela and Brazil, but won’t be available in the 3rd game.
That is, in theory, the players have had time to return from the national team, serve their quarantine in Britain and miss one round. Colombian media confirm this, as they describe the situation with Davinson Sanchez: under the club’s condition, he must return for the match against Chelsea (September 19). Different gambling operators provide betting options for this top game. Any player can find the most popular and trusted ones on bookmaker-ratings.com, with odds on Chelsea win 2.05 and Tottenham win 4.03.
What will happen to the Argentinian players now remains to be seen. Perhaps they will be deported from Brazil, maybe forced into quarantine.
As a result, it was concluded to delay the match: until when remains unknown. What is clear is that instead of the main game of the day, which was put at a convenient time for Europe on Sunday evening, we got a farce.
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