Brazil and Argentina’s World Cup qualifier was abandoned just minutes after kick-off on Sunday after Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of three Argentine players they believe broke quarantine rules.
The visitors walked off the pitch at the Corinthians Arena after the officials came out to stop the game.
The dramatic intervention came hours after Brazil’s health authorities had said four England-based players for Argentina had to quarantine.
Although it did not name the four, the players with English Premier League clubs are Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa, and Giovani lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham Hotspur.
Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero all started the game in Sao Paulo.
No date for the rearranged fixture has been set with Argentina players leaving to prepare for their next World Cup qualifier – at home to Bolivia on Friday, 10 September.
Fifa confirmed the suspension of the game, adding that “further details will follow in due course”.
Under Brazilian rules, visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
“We got to this point because everything that ANVISA directed, from the first moment, was not fulfilled,” Antonio Barra Torres, director at Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa, said on Brazilian television.
“[The four players] were directed to remain isolated while awaiting deportation, but they did not comply. They went to the stadium and they entered the field, in a series of breaches,” the official added.
Surreal: Brazil v Argentina stopped inside 7 mins by Brazilian Federal Police walking on field to detain 4 Argentinian Premier League players who failed to disclose they are based in Britain, breaking COVID protocols upon entering Brazil. Chaos ensued 🇧🇷🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/ANG5L61SaK
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 5, 2021
The Argentine Football Association said the team had been in Brazil since 3 September and had complied with all the health protocols.
“Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition,” it said.
Brazilian Football Confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues criticised the health officials for the timing of their intervention.
“I feel sorry for all the sports fans who wanted to watch the game on television,” he told Brazil’s Sportv.
“With all due respect to Anvisa, they could have resolved this earlier and not waited for the game to start.”