Fifa open disciplinary proceedings against Brazil and Argentina over quarantine fiasco

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Brazil vs Argentina abandoned as officials storm pitch to deport Premier League players - SHUTTERSTOCK
Brazil vs Argentina abandoned as officials storm pitch to deport Premier League players - SHUTTERSTOCK

Fifa has launched disciplinary proceedings against Brazil and Argentina over the quarantine farce that led to teams being hauled off the pitch.

The inclusion of both nations shows investigators suspect wrongdoing on both sides as they piece together the saga involving four Premier League players.

Confirmation of potential sanctions came as football chiefs pleaded with the governing body to abandon potential punishments for the English clubs who sparked the initial row by withholding players from international duty prior to the international break.

The likes of Manchester City and Liverpool could be prevented by Fifa from playing their Brazilian stars for five days after the teams held firm on a league pact to avoid players travelling to red list nations.

However, Charlie Marshall, the European Club Association chief executive, said the subsequent chaos involving Tottenham's Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso and Aston Villa pair Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia illustrates why the clubs should not be punished

"We don't think there should be sanctions because if a player has to quarantine he is unavailable to immediately play for his club again, so it would be longer than the agreed release period," he said at an ECA general assembly in Geneva. "We asked Fifa to extend the exception for players having to be released for international duty but they chose not to. This has to be sorted it out within the next 24 hours – Liverpool and the other clubs needs to know if they can play their Brazilians or not or whether Fifa is going to enforce the five-day rule for not releasing the players. If Fifa is not going to sanction the clubs then they need to tell them."

Players leave the area after the World Cup Qualifier game between Brazil and Argentina at Arena Corinthians - Getty Images
Players leave the area after the World Cup Qualifier game between Brazil and Argentina at Arena Corinthians - Getty Images

Fifa "has abused its position and they have to sort it out because we need to know if the five-day rule is going to be imposed”, he added. ECA had suggested to Conmebol that they play the matches in a regional hub, to decrease travel times and quarantine risks, but that was rejected.

Andrea Radrizzani, of Leeds United, praised his Raphinha for sticking with the club. "We invited him to make a decision and he decided no," the Italian added. "He showed great respect for his club and the Premier League in giving up this opportunity to play for his country for the first time.

Premier League clubs had unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red list countries due to Fifa’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.

Villa struck an agreement with the Argentine Federation after being backed into a corner by the wishes of their players, but Spurs did not sanction the release of Romero and Lo Celso. The pair will face fines when they eventually return to England.

On Sunday, the World Cup qualifier against Brazil was abandoned just eight minutes after kick-off after health officials objected to their Premier League players' participation.

The Argentina team had been in the country for two days before health chiefs declared England-based players should be immediately put in isolation.

Fifa said in a statement that "disciplinary proceedings have been opened involving both member associations". "The two teams were asked to provide further information on the facts that led to the suspension of the match, which will be gathered and then thoroughly reviewed by Fifa's Disciplinary Committee," a spokeswoman added. "Updates will follow in due course."

If one of the nations is found guilty of wrongdoing, the points will be forfeited to the other side.

Brazil vs Argentina abandoned as officials storm pitch to deport Premier League players

By Tom Morgan

Brazil's match with Argentina descended into farce on Sunday evening before it was abandoned after health officials invaded the pitch to deport four Premier League players accused of misleading authorities over their flights from the UK.

Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez as well as Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero had been told to isolate just two hours before their World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo. Argentina bosses ignored the warning, however, with Martínez, Romero and Lo Celso all starting the game.

As a result, just 10 minutes into the match, an army of government officials in suits walked onto the pitch to tell the referee to stop the game. Lengthy deliberations then ensued between Argentina, Brazil, Conmebol – the South American Football Confederation – and health authorities before the match was eventually called off almost an hour later.

Fifa told Telegraph Sport the decision to suspend the game was led by match officials. “Further details will follow in due course,” the governing body added.

Authorities had earlier demanded the players should quarantine and leave the country immediately. The intervention from Anvisa, the Brazilian health governing body, is the latest twist in a saga that saw Brazil react angrily last week over a Premier League pact to stop players travelling to countries on the UK Government's red list due to the subsequent impact on quarantining.

Spurs and Villa inexplicably broke the agreement by releasing the four Argentine players, but Brazil had been deprived of star names due to Liverpool and Manchester City keeping their South American talent in the UK.

The Argentinians had flown into Brazil on Friday, the day after beating Venezuela 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Caracas. However, Anvisa left it until three hours before kick off in Sao Paulo to issue a statement saying the four players should have quarantined on arrival in Brazil because the UK is on its own red list.

"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.

After health officials in suits walked on to the pitch at around 8.08pm, the Argentina players were led back towards the changing rooms, while Brazilian players were seen in extensive discussions with the referee and men in suits on the sidelines.

Eventually, as the Argentina squad was led away from the stadium, the Brazil players had a training session on the pitch, which was still screened live on national TV channels.

In the aftermath, Conmebol have said the referee and match delegate will now submit a report to Fifa's disciplinary committee. A decision on whether the game could be resumed is pending.

If Argentina's players are found to have breached health protocols, Fifa has to award the forfeit victory to Brazil.

The scenes come a week after the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City held firm over their refusal to release players for World Cup qualifiers in countries deemed high risk.

Numerous high-profile Brazilian players have not been released by their clubs - GETTY IMAGES
Numerous high-profile Brazilian players have not been released by their clubs - GETTY IMAGES

That provoked fury in Brazil, who are without Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Ederson, Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Fred (Manchester United), Richarlison (Everton) and Raphinha (Leeds).

Brazil, however, deems the UK just as risky a destination over its high Covid-19 rates. 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.

Anvisa said it was tipped off that the four players did not state that information on their immigration forms and on Sunday said they confirmed the details given were "false".

In Anvisa's earlier statement, the agency said the players had supplied "false information in an official form of the Brazilian sanitary authority".

"After a meeting with the health authorities, it was confirmed, after consulting the passports of the four players involved, that the athletes failed to comply with the rule for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil, provided for in Interministerial Ordinance No. 655, of 2021, which provides that foreign travellers who have passed through the United Kingdom, South Africa, Northern Ireland and India in the last 14 days, are prevented from entering Brazil.

"The players in question declared that they have not passed through any of the four countries with restrictions in the last 14 days.

"The travellers arrived in Brazil by flight from Caracas/Venezuela to Guarulhos. However, unofficial news reached Anvisa reporting alleged false statements made by such travellers... Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk, and therefore advised the local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of players, who are prevented from participating in any activity and must be prevented from remaining in Brazilian territory, pursuant to art. 11, of Federal Law No. 6437/77."

The four England-based players are already facing quarantine and extra testing when they return to the UK.

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