A stunning scene unfolded at the World Cup qualifying match between Argentina and Brazil on Sunday in Sao Paulo. The game came to a screeching halt in the sixth minute of action when Brazilian health officials and federal police came onto the field and reportedly attempted to detain four Argentinian players.
Police walked onto the pitch to reportedly confront four players who had “failed to adhere to public health regulations,” according to the Premier Sports broadcast. Apparently, those individuals had failed to quarantine for the full 14 days required of those traveling from the United Kingdom.
Players, officials and coaches all moved about in confusion for a few minutes after the police first came onto the field. In the 11th minute of gameplay, Argentina walked off the field and back into the locker room. Soon after, more information about the situation began to pour in.
Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero all dressed for the Argentinian national team on Sunday, but normally play for Premier League clubs in the UK. Under Brazilian guidelines, visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa had reportedly called for the immediate isolation of those four players a few hours before the game. However, three of them (Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero) were in the starting line-up.
As a result, health officials and police came on the pitch to stop the game.
“Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil,” Anvisa said in a statement, per Sky Sports.
ICYMI. Brazil v Argentina is wild. Game stopped after 10 mins bc a bunch of health officials and cops came on to pitch and, according to commentator, are detaining the 4 PL based Argentina players (Martinez, Buendia, Romero and Lo Celso) for not quarantining.
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) September 5, 2021
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
My favorite part about this whole thing is they coulda gone and grabbed them man in warmups or at the hotel, NAAAHHHHHH they had to be messy and dramatic and wait till kickoff 😭😭😂😂
— Aaron West (@oeste) September 5, 2021
This stems from the players having travelled from the UK, a country in which you need to be quarantined for.
They all declared they had NOT been in the UK ahead of their travels. Three players (not Buendía) all in the starting lineup. The police have now stopped the game.
— Jonas Adnan Giæver (@CheGiaevara) September 5, 2021
Absolutely wild scene at the Argentina-Brazil match… Brazilian Federal Police show up & walk on field; trying to DEPORT 4 Argentinian players for lying about following COVID protocols to enter country. Argentina has walked off the field 😲pic.twitter.com/VZOPkFpPpD
— Josh Sánchez (@joshnsanchez) September 5, 2021
The Argentina-Brazil match has now been suspended for about 40 minutes.
According to Paul Gilmour of Sky Sports, Brazilian health officials expressed their desire to deport the four players that were in violation of the country’s protocols. Argentina remained in the locker room after walking off the pitch and haven’t given any update on the status of the four players in question.
Stay tuned for more on the developing situation.