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World News

How incredible postponement of Brazil vs Argentina played out

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Surreal scenes in Brazil
Surreal scenes in Brazil / Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images
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Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina was postponed after the Brazilian health authorities and police entered the field of play to detain four Argentinian players who failed to quarantine after entering the country.

In utterly surreal scenes, the game was halted after ten minutes following the incident. Prior to kick off, Premier League quartet Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia were investigated by the Brazilian authorities for a breach of coronavirus regulations.

It was alleged that they failed to declare that they had been in England prior to arriving in Brazil. Currently, anyone doing this is required to quarantine for 14 days but the players did not - for obvious reasons.

Following an investigation it seemed that the foursome were in the clear, with Lo Celso and Romero both starting the game while Martinez and Buendia were named on the bench.

However, in the opening exchanges Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch in an attempt to detain the players. Soon after the Argentina team returned to the dressing room with captain Lionel Messi emerging to play mediator after a few minutes.

Following close to an hour of stalemate, CONMEBOL finally released a statement on the matter, saying: "By decision of the match referee, the match organized by FIFA between Brazil and Argentina for the World Cup Qualifiers is suspended.

"The referee and the match commissioner will submit a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which will determine the steps to be followed. These procedures strictly adhere to current regulations.

"The World Cup Qualifiers is a FIFA competition. All decisions concerning its organization and development are the exclusive power of that institution."

Brazil v Argentina - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Argentina soon retreated to the dressing room after the incident / Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Soon after this press release was penned Claudio Tapia, the president of the Argentine Football Association, issued his own statement.

"You cannot talk about any lie here because there is health legislation under which all South American tournaments are played. The health authorities of each country approved a protocol that we have been fully complying with.

"What happened today is unfortunate for football, it is a very bad image. Four people entered to interrupt the game to make a notification and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the locker room."

Head coach Lionel Scaloni added: "It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players.

Neymar Jr., Danilo da Silva, Éder Militão, Gabriel
Brazil players shared jokes on the pitch as the bizarre situation unfolded / Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

"At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the match, the Brazilian footballers too."

The incredible incident is the latest twist in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Games have already been postponed after European clubs refused to release their players last season and a similar argument raged before the current international break.

This time around, though, clubs have taken different approaches. For instance, Manchester City barred their players from travelling to South America with Ederson and Gabriel Jesus forced to stay at home. However, other Premier League sides did release their players.

With the game abandoned CONMEBOL face a race against time to complete the qualification process before the World Cup kicks off next year. There were calls for last summer's Copa America to be used as qualifying matches, but these were ignored at the time.

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