World Cup qualifiers between Argentina and Brazil were abandoned after Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch as they tried to remove four Premier League players from the match
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Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has acknowledged his’ grief ‘after Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch, forcing the two nations’ World Cup qualifier to be abandoned on Sunday.
Chaos fell on Sao Paulo when local authorities came on the field in just a few minutes as they tried to remove four Argentina players, all of whom play in the Premier League.
Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero all defied club orders by joining their national team despite top clubs unanimously agreeing not to release players to UK government red list countries such as Argentina and Brazil.
The four had entered Brazil without undergoing the mandatory quarantine after taking part in the victory over Venezuela on Thursday and traveling to their next destination as part of the team’s bubble.
Despite having trained in Sao Paolo for several days, health officials from Anvisa chose to make their strong effort to hold back the players during the match, much to the truth of Scaloni.
The 43-year-old, who led Argentina to the Copa America glory in July, said after the referee’s decision to give up the match: “It makes me very sad. I’m not looking for any sins. Whether something happened or not, it was not the time to make that intervention.
“It should have been a party for everyone to enjoy the best players in the world. I want the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players,” he said.
“We were never informed that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the game, including the players from Brazil.”
The head of the Argentine FA, Claudio Tapia, added: “Here you can not talk about any lie because there is a health legislation where all South American tournaments are played.
“Each country’s health authorities approved a protocol that we have complied with to the maximum,” Tapia continued.
“What was experienced today is unfortunate for football, it is a very bad image. Four people came in to interrupt the match to inform, and Conmebol asked the players to go to the locker room.”
CONMEBOL – the South American football governing body – published a statement that reads: “Following the referee’s decision, the match hosted by FIFA between Brazil and Argentina for the World Cup qualifiers is suspended.
“The referee and the match commissioner shall submit a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which shall set out the steps to be followed. These procedures strictly comply with the applicable rules.
“The World Cup qualifiers are a FIFA competition. All decisions concerning its organization and development are the exclusive competence of the institution.”
Lionel Messi and Neymar, the two stars of the nag affair and newly reunited teammates in Paris Saint-Germain, were seen arguing with officials.
Messi was heard shouting to a referee: “We have been here for three days, we were waiting to play the match, why did you not come earlier?”