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Police investigating 4 Argentines in WC qualifiers

Police stand guard outside Neo Quimica Arena stadium after a qualifying soccer match between Argentina and Brazil for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, were interrupted by health authorities in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Sept.5, 2021. Argentina’s World Cup qualifier at Brazil was interrupted after just seven minutes Sunday in a dispute over coronavirus concerns, with the game later suspended by the referee. AP PHOTO/ANDRE PENNER


Four Argentina footballers are being investigated by Brazil federal police for allegedly providing false information upon arrival in Sao Paulo for a World Cup qualifying match.

The Brazil-Argentina qualifier on Sunday (Monday in Manila) was interrupted after seven minutes when agents of Brazil’s health agency, Anvisa, insisted they should take England-based players Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero to the airport for breaching coronavirus protocols.

Anvisa said Argentina soccer officials knew since Saturday that the four players – three of whom were on the field – should not play because they were in the United Kingdom 14 days before their arrival, but did not inform authorities as required. Visitors from the UK must undergo a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

Brazil federal police confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) the four players received a notification to leave the country on Sunday (Monday in Manila), and had to give written statements to authorities. They flew with the rest of the Argentina squad to Buenos Aires shortly after. The match was abandoned without a score.

Argentina tweeted on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) that Martinez and Buendia were authorized to return to England so they could rejoin their club Aston Villa. It did not discuss the situation for Tottenham’s Lo Celso and Romero.

Anvisa director Alex Campos said Argentina “repeatedly ignored the agency’s recommendations.”

“They were first informed Saturday morning about the players entering the country with false information,” Campos told SporTV. “We could have deported them at once. But we recommended quarantine. There was another meeting in the afternoon, same message. And then Sunday morning we saw they had attended a training session.

“We never meant to interrupt the match. We were stopped from acting until the time the match began. Our only goal was to take the players who were challenging Brazilian regulations,” Campos added. “The match could have continued; the interruption was a decision by sports executives. Argentina tried to put pressure on Brazilian authorities and chose to leave if they didn’t have those players.”

Campos also said the four players refused to sign a notification of the incident before leaving.

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