FIFA ‘regrets’ chaos at abandoned Brazil v Argentina match


Lausanne (AFP) – FIFA said Monday it regretted the chaotic scenes that preceded the suspension of the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina and a decision on possible disciplinary action would be taken “in due course”.

The match at Sao Paulo’s Neo Quimica Arena on Sunday was halted when Brazilian health officials ran onto the pitch seven minutes after kick-off, triggering a melee involving team officials and players from both sides.

The officials intervened just hours after health authorities in Brazil said four England-based players in Argentina’s squad should be placed in “immediate quarantine” for breaching Covid-19 protocols.

“FIFA regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022 which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world,” football’s world governing body said in a statement.

“The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course,” FIFA added.

Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) said the Argentinian Premier League players — Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham, and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia — had given “false information” when they entered Brazil.

Romero, Lo Celso and Martinez were all in Argentina’s starting line-up for Sunday’s game, prompting the intervention of ANVISA officials.

In scenes of confusion on the pitch, Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his teammates left the field while Brazil’s squad began a practice game.

After the game was abandoned, Messi criticised the intervention of the Brazilian officials.

“We’ve been here for three days, why are you doing this just now?” he said on Argentina’s TyC network.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters that “at no time were we told that they could not play the game”.

The Argentina team arrived back in Buenos Aires early Monday.

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