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There were extraordinary scenes during Brazil's World Cup qualifier with Argentina on Sunday when health officials ran onto the field in an attempt to detain three players they said broke quarantine rules.
The match was suspended after just seven minutes of play when officials with Brazil's health regulator Anvisa walked onto the pitch at the Corinthians arena to stop the game.
'SHOULD BE ASHAMED': Football world fumes at 'disgusting' scenes
The players were shocked at the encroachment and the Argentines quickly left the field, although the two coaches, along with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Brazilian players, gathered at the side of the pitch a few moments later to discuss the stoppage.
"Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?" Messi could be heard saying.
"We've been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us.
“They could have sent us when we arrived three days ago, why are they waiting for the match to start? It's a disgrace, this place is circus."
Messi then returned to the dressing room and at 5pm local time, an hour after the game kicked off, the match was officially suspended.
"The referee and the match official will take a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and they will decide what steps to take," said a statement issued by the South American Football Confederation.
Anvisa's president Antonio Barra Torres said four Argentine players would be fined and deported for allegedly not following Brazil's Covid-19 protocols.
The bizarre incident occurred just hours after Anvisa said the four players had to isolate and could not play in the match.
Football world rages over farcical scenes
The three who started the match - Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Martinez - were among four Argentine players who play in England's Premier League.
Under Brazilian rules, visitors who have been in the UK in the 14 days before entering the country must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Brazil's health regulator were tipped off that the four did not state that information on their immigration forms and on Sunday said they confirmed the details given were "false".
"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.
Nevertheless no action was taken and the three players, along with Emiliano Buendia, were allowed to travel with the Argentine team from the hotel to the Corinthians arena.
Buendia and Martinez play for Aston Villa and Lo Celso and Romero are with Tottenham Hotspur.
The chaotic scenes on Sunday came amid continuing anger in South America at rules which have robbed several teams of key players for this month's three World Cup qualifiers.
Brazil are without nine key men for the Argentina game, and other South American sides have also lost players due to a decision by some European clubs not to let their players travel to the continent.
Fans and commentators flocked to social media to condemn the farcical scenes.
Total farce. Brazil v Argentina has kicked off, and Brazil's health authorities have wandered on to the pitch
— Tim Vickery (@Tim_Vickery) September 5, 2021
Seriously, what an absolute joke to not address this until Brazil-Argentina is already underway.
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) September 5, 2021
— Emmanuel Osigwe, PhD. (@B_Blastitude) September 5, 2021
CONFIRMED: Buendia and Emi Martinez (Aston Villa), Gio Lo Celso and Cuti Romero (spurs) have been ordered to leave Brazil and will NOT be allowed to play for @Argentina tonight after entering from the UK without quarantining [@samstreetwrites]
Total disgrace from Brazilian govt
— 🏆Latin american Champions 🇦🇷 (@AlbicelesteZone) September 5, 2021
These health officials in the Brazil v Argentina game are a disgrace. Why wait 5 minutes after the game has started to cause such a scene?
Absolute jobsworths and making a fool of themselves.
— George Speakman (@_GSpeakman) September 5, 2021
Brazil Health officials are a joke. They have stormed the field and forced the Argentina National Team back to the dressing room. Conembol shambles once again. #BRAARG
— Aaron Pitters (@aaronpitters) September 5, 2021
Reports coming in that the game between Brazil and Argentina has been suspended.
The names of those players were known to the whole world before the game, why the hell were they allowed to be named on the team sheet?
An absolute Joke this. CONMEBOL never surprises#BRAARG
— The Football Wizard (@thefutbolwizard) September 5, 2021
What on earth is happening in Brazil v. Argentina qualifier. This is a joke!!!
— FPL The Special Ones (@FplOnes) September 5, 2021
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