10 September 2021 By Grace Namiji
World football governing body, FIFA have opened a disciplinary proceedings against Argentina and Brazil over the chaos that led to their World Cup qualifier being suspended after Brazilian health officials stormed the field to question the quarantine status of players.
FIFA cited ongoing legal procedures as the reason it could not provide specifics on the alleged rule breaches or comment on whether it could also have been partly culpable, along with South American confederation CONMEBOL, for the saga that led to the game being halted after seven minutes on Sunday.
FIFA did not specify which regulations the football federations from Argentina and Brazil were being investigated for breaching.
Four of Argentina’s English Premier League players were accused of flouting quarantine requirements in Sao Paulo and of falsifying Brazilian coronavirus declarations by not stating they had been in red-listed Britain in the previous 14 days.
“Following the analysis of the official match reports related to the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina, FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened involving both member associations,” FIFA said in a statement.
“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.”
But FIFA itself could technically be partly culpable, too, as the organizers of the qualifier which appointed the match delegate, whose role is to oversee that regulations are being adhered to.
Argentina added to the confusion on Tuesday night, saying on Twitter that one of its staff tested positive for COVID-19, but did not name the person.
The Associated Press obtained a Brazilian health ministry document sent to a CONMEBOL email address that authorities thought they could use to reach president Alejandro Dominguez.
It said a final request for a quarantine exemption was rejected for Aston Villa players Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, and Tottenham duo Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero.
They had arrived in Brazil on Friday morning from Caracas, where they’d beaten Venezuela 3-1 the previous night. A Sao Paulo state health secretariat document obtained by the AP shows the organization received the first rumors about players giving false information to enter the country just before midnight, about 15 hours after they left the airport.
CONMEBOL said it neither asked the health ministry to register the Argentinians nor received the email with its decision.
The same document says Argentina youth team coach Fernando Ariel Batista filled the forms for all the players, although he denied on Monday doing so or even being in Brazil.
Rather than deporting the players, as Anvisa noted was within its powers, quarantine was recommended.
But the message sent by the health ministry on Sunday ahead of kickoff showed the Brazilian authorities said the players were being recommended to quarantine at the hotel to comply with COVID-19 rules.
That did not happen and it took the health officials entering the match already underway to challenge the four players, who were later allowed to fly back to Buenos Aires.
They are being investigated by Brazil federal police for allegedly providing false information upon arrival in Sao Paulo.