The four Premier League players at the centre of the abandonment of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil have reportedly been deported.
Argentina’s entire squad left Sao Paulo on Sunday night after Brazilian public health agents and federal police officers invaded the pitch and had the game abandoned inside 10 minutes.
Tottenham pair Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, as well as Aston Villa’s Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez have been accused of entering Brazil illegally.
Argentinian outlet TyC Sports detailed that the quartet did travel with the rest of the squad back to Buenos Aires but the four of them had been classified as ‘deportees’ in leaving Brazil by the state of Sao Paulo.
The Argentina FA had argued that the group had been in Brazilian territory since Friday September 3 from 8am, and as such were complying with all of the current protocols around Covid-19 and travel regulated by Conmebol, organisers of the qualifiers.
But as reported exclusively by Sportsmail last week, they had falsified documents, failing to declare the four players had come from the UK and therefore risked deportation or at least quarantine, in line with Brazilian Covid protocol.
Argentina’s squad flew back to Buenos Aires on Sunday night after their World Cup qualifier against Brazil in Sao Paulo was abandoned by health authorities
Players looked unfazed by the dramatic incident as Lionel Messi (left) posted a relaxed photo
Messi and Brazilian ace Neymar, who are team-mates at PSG, argued with officials on Sunday
The Premier League had initially refused to release all players who were set to play international matches in red-listed countries, such as Brazil.
Brazilian law states that anyone who has been in the UK during the previous 14 days must quarantine in a hotel for a further 14 days, a move that would have seen the four players unable to leave until at least September 18.
By UK law those who leave for red-listed countries would then be compelled to isolate in a government-issued hotel for 10 days upon their return.
To navigate a hotel room quarantine, the Premier League quartet reportedly had a plan to travel to Croatia, a green-listed country, to train before returning to England.
For Tottenham and Aston Villa this would allow for their ‘deported’ stars to be closer to match fitness and therefore a return to the side when they are back.
With Croatia on the green list they would be able to enter the UK on day 10 without the need for self-isolation.
Christian Romero (top left), Giovani Lo Celso (top right), Emiliano Martinez (bottom left) and Emi Buendia (bottom right) are accused of breaking Brazil’s Covid-19 quarantine rules
The four English-based players all left the UK despite the Premier League stopping teams from playing in red list countries
Martinez is reportedly due to travel to Croatia today as per an agreement between the AFA and Villa. Buendia is expected to go with him.
The conduct of Argentina as part of the farcical situation which saw health officials invade the field of play was described as ‘tricks’ by one Brazilian senator.
Flavio Bolsonaro, eldest son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tweeted: ‘Argentines played tricks. They knew they were breaking the Brazilian law.
‘PF (Federal Police) has to investigate who did not take action before the game and Argentina should be severely punished.’
The match drew worldwide attention for an incredible situation which saw politics and sport crossover.
The first twist came four hours before kick-off when Brazil’s health agency Anvisa issued a statement claiming the four Argentina players had entered the country illegally when they arrived from Venezuela on Friday because they failed to declare they had been within the UK within the previous 14 days, thus breaking a portaria — an entry rule — created at the height of concern about the Delta variant.
Then, within an hour, the game had been formally abandoned while still goalless.
A statement from South American football governing body read: ‘The referee and the match commissioner will submit a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which will determine the steps to be followed. These procedures strictly adhere to current regulations.
Health authorities stormed the pitch in Brazil-Argentina to detain four Premier League players
Following the chaos and confusion, Argentina’s players walked off the pitch at the scenes
‘The World Cup Qualifiers is a FIFA competition. All decisions concerning its organisation and development are the exclusive power of that institution.’
Suddenly, the questions and the accusations flew, including from Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
According to RMC Sport, Argentina’s biggest star was heard saying: ‘We’ve been here for three days, we were waiting to play the match, why didn’t you come earlier? This is a mess, we’re off!’
Argentinian outlet Ole wrote in their Monday morning piece: ‘Many say that the move is even endorsed by the top of Brazilian football.’
Ole argued that with Brazilian losing a number of star players from the Premier League due to the strict protocol that they felt weakened and didn’t want Argentina to benefit.
A statement from the AFA read: ‘The Argentine Football Association expresses its deep discomfort at the suspension of the match between the Argentine National Team and the Brazilian National Team in Sao Paulo.
‘Like the CBF (the Brazilian FA), the AFA is surprised by the actions of Anvisa once the game has started. It should be noted that the Argentina Delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by Conmebol for the normal development of the Qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022.
‘Following the report from the Conmebol officials and the match referee, the information will be forwarded to the competent FIFA body in accordance with current regulations.
‘Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition.’
More to follow.