Brazil’s World Cup qualifying clash against Argentina was dramatically suspended shortly after kick-off on Sunday as controversy over Covid-19 protocols erupted.
Amid incredible scenes at Sao Paulo’s Neo Quimica Arena, the match between the two giants of South American football came to a halt when a group of Brazilian public health officials came onto the pitch, triggering a melee involving team staff and players.
Argentina’s players trudged off the pitch to the locker room as the furore arranged. Argentina captain Lionel Messi later re-emerged from the tunnel without his team shirt on as confusion swept around the stadium.
The stunning intervention came just hours after Brazil’s health authorities said four players in Argentina’s squad based in England should be placed in “immediate quarantine” for breaching Covid-19 protocols.
According to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), Premier League players Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa) and Cristian Romero (Tottenham) provided “false information” upon their entry to Brazil.
Romero, Lo Celso and Martinez were all in the Argentina starting line-up that kicked off Sunday’s game — triggering the intervention onto the field of officials wearing ANVISA shirts.
The four Premier League players were accused of failing to disclose that they had spent time in the United Kingdom in the 14 days prior to their arrival.
“We got to this point because everything that ANVISA directed, from the first moment, was not fulfilled,” ANVISA director Antonio Barra Torres said on Brazilian television.