The reunion between Messi and Neymar with their choice ended, with the end of the match between Brazil and Argentina on Sunday in Sao Paulo, after intervention by the Brazilian health authorities, four Argentine players who played in England were accused of violating anticovid protocols.
Fifa confirmed in a statement that this qualifier for the WC-2022 was “suspended following the referee’s decision”, without specifying whether it will be postponed or not at a later date.
The kick-off had been given barely five minutes when the surreal scene occurred: representatives of the health service in Anvisa and the federal police entered the field to end the meeting, in the confusion the most total.
The Argentines tried to parley, but eventually returned to the locker room, where they lived for more than three hours, before finally leaving the stadium, an hour after the Brazilian delegation.
The president of the Argentine Federation (AFA), Claudio Tapia, assured that they would return directly to Buenos Aires by plane this Sunday night.
“We’ve been here three days, why have they (Anvisa agents) not come before,” Messi asked, along with Neymar and the coaches of the two teams, in a video by the Argentinian TyC channel in confusion.
“We were not informed that (the four players) could not play the match. We wanted to play, and so did the Brazilians,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was quoted as saying on the Argentine league’s Twitter account.
A few hours before the kick-off, Anvisa had announced in a statement that they had recommended to the local authorities in the state of Sao Paulo that the four football players be “immediately quarantined” for having given “false information” in the registration form to Brazil.
According to the health agency, Giovanni Lo Celso (Tottenham), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa) and Cristian Romero (Tottenham) have not been able to report that they had lived in the UK for the last fourteen days before their arrival.
The AFA president, for his part, denied any “lies” on the part of the players.
A ministerial order dated June 23 prohibits entry into Brazilian territory for any foreigner from the United Kingdom, India or South Africa, to prevent the spread of varieties of Covid-19.
Brazil is the second country in the world most exposed to covid-19, with more than 580,000 dead.
Anvisa press release reported a “serious health risk”, which banned players from “participating in any activity and remaining on Brazilian territory”.
No duel Messi x Neymar
Despite this decision, Lo Celso, Martinez and Romero had lined up in start 11 of Albiceleste and had started the match.
“We came to this situation because everything that Anvisa had recommended from the beginning was not followed. (The players) had been ordered to remain isolated pending deportation (from the country), but they went to the stadium and entered the pitch, “said the director of the health agency, Antonio Barra Torres., On the TV channel Globo.
Unlike the nine Brazilians in the Premier League called up by coach Tite, the four Argentines took the trip despite the veto of English clubs, which banned their South American players from participating in these international matches to avoid quarantine on return.
“Everyone was surprised. It is an unfortunate episode, a match between Brazil and Argentina is the core of attention around the world,” lamented the interim president of the Brazilian Confederation, Ednaldo Rodrigues.
The wait was huge for this shock, the revenge in the final of the Copa América, where the Argentine superstar Lionel Messi won his first qualifying title thanks to a 1-0 victory over Seleçao, July 10, at the Maracana.
This meeting was to face Messi and Neymar, teammates in Paris SG since last summer after playing together for four years in FC Barcelona (2013-2017).
It was the duel at the top of these South American qualifiers, the Brazilians ran ahead with 21 points and seven victories in seven games, followed by Albiceleste (15 points).