Brazil-Argentina abandoned after health officials enter pitch

The World Cup Qualifier between Brazil and Argentina on Sunday night was abandoned after Brazilian health officials entered the pitch in a row over Covid rules.

The officials marched onto the field shortly after kick-off and confronted the Argentina players, who left the field while the two managers – along with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Brazil’s players – gathered to discuss the stoppage.

The South American football confederation CONMEBOL later confirmed the game – which was 0-0 when it was stopped – had been called off by the referee, who they said would submit a disciplinary report to FIFA.

Antonio Barra Torres, the president of Brazil’s health agency Anvisa, said four Argentina players will be fined and deported for allegedly not following the country’s Covid protocols.

Anvisa had sought the immediate isolation of the four players just hours before the game in Sao Paulo.

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South American reporter Tim Vickery outlines the timeline of events as Brazil’s match against Argentina was abandoned due to four Premier League-based Argentina players travelling to Brazil without going into self-isolation.

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.

Although Anvisa did not name the four, the players with Premier League clubs are Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham.

Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero were named in Argentina’s starting line-up, while Buendia did not make the squad.

How Brazil vs Argentina abandonment unfolded

– 6pm: Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa seeks the immediate isolation of four Argentina players just hours before they are due to face Brazil in a World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo.

– 8pm: Brazil vs Argentina kicks-off as planned.

– 8:06pm: Play is halted as health officials walk onto the pitch to seemingly try and remove Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham from the pitch.

– 8:11pm: The game is suspended as Argentina players head back to the dressing room.

– 8:18pm: Lionel Messi appears to try and negotiate with the authorities but his team-mates remain in the dressing room.

– 8.40pm: Reports suggest a bus is en route to escort the Argentina team away from the stadium.

– 8:50pm: The game is abandoned.

“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 ahead of kick-off.

Argentina players are confronted during their match with Brazil
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Argentina players are confronted by officials during their match with Brazil

The Argentine squad flew into Brazil on Friday, the day after beating Venezuela 3-1 in a World Cup Qualifier in Caracas.

Anvisa were tipped off that the four players did not state they had been in the UK within the last two weeks on their immigration forms. The health regulator confirmed the details the players gave were “false”.

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni insisted his side were not informed they could not take the field, telling reporters after the game: “I’ve come here so that our country can find out what’s happened. It makes me very sad.

“I’m not looking to find any guilty parties. Whether something happened or not, it wasn’t the right time for that intervention.

“It should’ve been a footballing spectacle for everyone to enjoy the best players in the world. I’d like the Argentine people to understand that as the national team coach, I have to defend my players.

“At no point were we notified that they couldn’t play. We wanted to play the game, as did the Brazil players.”

Argentina and Brazil players are surrounded by officials during their World Cup qualifier
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Argentina and Brazil players are surrounded by officials during their World Cup qualifier

Argentine FA president Claudio Tapia added his players had not lied about being in the UK before entering Brazil, saying: “There can’t be any talk of lies here because there is health legislation under which all South American competitions are played.

“Health authorities in every country approved a protocol that we have been fully compliant with.

“What’s happened today is terrible for football and sends out a very bad image. Four people interrupted the game to inform us of something and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the dressing room.”

Sky Sports News has approached FIFA for comment.

The abandonment comes amid continuing anger in South America at rules which have prevented several teams from using key players for this month’s three World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil were 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.

They would have to quarantine on return and the clubs do not want to lose their players for subsequent league games.

Aston Villa said Martinez and Buendia had agreed to return to the club after the Brazil game and miss Argentina’s match against Bolivia on Tuesday. The Argentine Football Association, however, said they would play all three games.

Spurs, Villa in row with Argentina over international stars

Tottenham and Aston Villa are embroiled in a new club-versus-country row as their Argentine players risk missing out on the next two Premier League fixtures.

Sky Sports News has been told that Villa only allowed Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez to go on international duty on the understanding they would be released by Argentina immediately after Sunday’s World Cup Qualifier against Brazil – while it is understood Spurs had no such agreement for Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso to travel.

It would mean the players would only miss one Premier League match for their club, once they had completed their 10-day period of isolation on return from a UK government red-list country.

However, Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claims he is totally unaware of any agreement with Villa and said they would all be available also for next Thursday’s game against Bolivia.

“We gave the list for the three games and there are no doubts about that,” Scaloni said following Argentina’s 3-1 win over Venezuela on Thursday.

“The players are here to play all three games. We never had a refusal from the clubs. We spoke and reached a conclusion that they had to come.”

Buendia
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Aston Villa’s Emi Buendia is already set to miss their Premier League game against Chelsea next weekend

Romero and Lo Celso will already sit out Tottenham’s game at Crystal Palace next Saturday at 12.30pm while Buendia and Martinez won’t feature in Villa’s trip to Chelsea at 5.30pm on the same day.

However, if Argentina retain those players for their final qualifier against Bolivia, all four will be forced to miss another league match the following weekend.

In that case, Villa would welcome back Buendia and Martinez after they host Everton on September 18 – while Lo Celso and Romero would be unavailable for Spurs’ Europa Conference League opener at Rennes on September 16 as well as their clash against Chelsea on September 19.

It is understood both Spurs and Villa expect their players to return to the UK early next week.

Argentina's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez warms up prior to the Copa America final soccer match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
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Emiliano Martinez helped Argentina win the Copa America trophy in the summer

Martinez and Lo Celso started in Venezuela on Thursday, while Buendia did not make the matchday squad and Romero was suspended.

The September international window has been shrouded in controversy with various leagues declaring they would not release players if they had to quarantine on return due to worsening Covid-19 rates in South America.

Premier League clubs took that decision “reluctantly but unanimously” although some clubs have agreed to allow their players to join up with their national sides regardless of quarantine measures.

The UK government refused to grant exemptions to quarantine measures for professional football players despite FIFA president Gianni Infantino writing a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to overturn the decision.

Chile, Mexico and Paraguay this week asked FIFA to apply sanctions on Premier League clubs which could prevent them from fielding players after the international window.

Fix international duty issue – Nuno | Villa let Argentine duo travel

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo has urged authorities to provide solutions to the South American international duty issue, which could see Spurs lose both Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso for an extended time.

The Premier League’s Argentine players are set to defy orders not to travel on international duty, despite Premier League clubs unanimously deciding not to release players for international matches in places on the UK’s red-list next month.

The decision had been taken so players will not have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to England. Argentina, Brazil and Egypt are among the nations currently on the UK Government’s red list regarding travel to England.

Pacos de Ferreira's Antunes Eustaquio, right, tries to tackle Tottenham's Cristian Romero
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Cristian Romero is set to join up with Argentina on international duty

But speaking after Spurs’ 1-0 win over Watford, Nuno said the club “do not approve” of players going on international duty, but does recognise how difficult it would be for them to turn down their country.

He told Sky Sports: “It’s a big problem, not only for our players, but for all the South American players playing in the Premier League because they have to obey the government law.

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Spurs’ Giovani Lo Celso is also set to link up with Argentina

“But we must be aware that saying no to a national team is very difficult. We will see how things go but we are here to look after our players, and we will do our best to manage the situation.

Returning to England from ‘red-list’ countries

The Government states those returning to England from a country on their red list must quarantine for 10 full days in a managed quarantine hotel and take a coronavirus test on or before day two and on or after day eight of quarantining.

“Our position is clear, as a club we don’t approve the situation, so what we want is a solution for everybody, because this will be a big problem, not only for this international break, we have one in one month’s time, two months’ time, and we must find a solution, because we cannot stay without our players.

“At the same time, national teams demand, so it’s a difficult situation, that we expect solutions, or at least some answers.”

Asked if he had spoken to the players about going on international duty, Nuno said: “We already did [speak to the players], we speak among ourselves, we deal with our own problems.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win over Watford in the Premier League

With international breaks to come in October and November, the issue could become sizeable for both Spurs and other Premier League clubs. In his post-match press conference, Nuno called on FIFA, the government and the Premier League to help.

“We will try to do so but at the same time we don’t have any kind of help from FIFA, the government or the Premier League in support in this situation.

“We know what it means for all of the players to play for their national teams. It’s something they’re very proud of, so what we are trying to do is anticipate the situations. So expecting that not only for the next international break but also there will be a couple more, so we need to be clear.

“We are trying to find the best way to have the players sooner when they return.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino had said earlier in the week that he had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and “appealed for the necessary support, in particular, so players are not deprived of the opportunity of representing their countries in qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup, which is one of the ultimate honours for a professional footballer.”

Villa allowing Buendia, Martinez to travel

Emi Buendia gestures after scoring for Villa
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Villa’s Emi Buendia could make his debut for Argentina

Aston Villa confirmed on Sunday evening that Emi Martínez and Emi Buendía have travelled to join up with the Argentina squad “with the permission of the club in accordance with FIFA’s international match call-up rules.”

Both players have agreed to make themselves available for Argentina’s vital first two World Cup qualifying matches against Venezuela and Brazil but will not take part in the third international match against Bolivia.

The arrangements mean that Martinez and Buendia will miss Villa’s Premier League match with Chelsea on September 11, before being available for the visit of Everton to Villa Park on September 18, both live on Sky Sports.

Villa said in a statement: “There are no easy solutions as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adversely impact professional sport. After careful consideration, we think this plan respects the long-established call-up rules and balances the importance which top players place on representing their countries in important matches with the best interests of Aston Villa.

“We wish all of our players who are joining up with their national teams the best of luck in their upcoming matches.”

Olympics: France stage stunning comeback

Teji Savanier was the last-gasp match winner as France staged a remarkable comeback to beat South Africa 4-3 in the Olympic football group stages.

After a goalless first half, Kobamelo Kodisang’s goal put South Africa in front in the 53rd minute. Andre-Pierre Gignac, aged 35, levelled up with his first goal of the match four minutes later.

Evidence Makgopa put South Africa back in front but Gignac again equalised with 12 minutes remaining. Teboho Mokoena then put South Africa ahead for a third time in the 81st minute before Gignac converted from the penalty spot in the 86th to set the stage for Montpellier midfielder Savanier’s late blast.

France midfielder Teji Savanier (L) scored his side's winning goal
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France midfielder Teji Savanier (L) scored his side’s winning goal

South Africa lost to hosts Japan 1-0 to open Group A on Thursday in their first group match, while France were routed by Mexico 4-1 in their opener.

Takefusa Kubo and Ritsu Doan scored in the opening 11 minutes to lead Japan to a 2-1 victory over Mexico.

Japan's Takefusa Kubo (2nd from L) is congratulated by his teammates after opening the scoring
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Japan’s Takefusa Kubo (2nd from L) is congratulated by his teammates after opening the scoring

Mexico had Yohan Vzquez sent off in the 67th but Roberto Alvarado still gave them hope of a comeback by scoring in the 86th minute. However, Japan held on to maintain their perfect record in Group A and move to within touching distance of the knockout stages.

Playing with 10 men for most of the game, Brazil held the Ivory Coast to a 0-0 draw in Group D.

The defending Olympic champions were at an early disadvantage early when Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz was sent off in the 13th minute.

Ivory Coast's Christian Kouame battles for a ball with Brazil duo Richarlison and Claudinho
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Ivory Coast’s Christian Kouame battles for a ball with Brazil duo Richarlison and Claudinho

In the other game in Group D, centre-back Felix Uduokhai pounced on a late header as Germany edged out Saudi Arabia 3-2 in a Group D thriller in Yokohama, with both teams combining for 32 attempts on goal.

Germany twice threw away the lead and had a player sent off before Uduokhai struck late to hand his side a first win in Japan.

Victory means the Germans now have three points in Group D, a point behind both Brazil and Ivory Coast. Saudi Arabia are without a point and sit bottom of the group.

Elsewhere, Honduras picked up their first win of the tournament as Rigoberto Rigas’ 87th-minute winner earned them victory over New Zealand in Group B, while Lee Kang-in scored twice after coming off the bench in the second half to lead South Korea to a 4-0 victory over 10-man Romania in the other game in the group.

Honduras celebrate Luis Palma's goal against new Zealand
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Honduras celebrate Luis Palma’s goal against new Zealand

South Korea’s victory leaves all four teams with three points in Group B heading into the final round of games on Wednesday.

Lens defender Facundo Medina was the matchwinner for Argentina, scoring the only goal in their 1-0 win over Egypt in Group C.

Facundo Medina scores Argentina's goal
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Facundo Medina scores Argentina’s goal

“This victory is very good for us, especially in terms of spirits,” said Argentine coach Fernando Batista. “We knew it was going to be a difficult match. Egypt had not lost for a long time. Now we have to rest and prepare for the best way to define the group against Spain.”

Finally, Spain winger Mikel Oyarzabal ended his country’s 21-year wait for an Olympic goal in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Australia in Group C.

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Higuain future as Argentina see success with Copa America title

Despite being Argentinian, we have not seen Higuain at the current Copa America since he retired from international football a few seasons ago. This was a surprise at the time, but he had long been out of favour and there is no doubting he did not get the same respect for Argentina, as he has had at many of the clubs he has played for over time. Higuain made his debut for Argentina back in 2009 and since scored 31 goals in 75 appearances, which is an impressive strike rate.

Argentina also saw some incredible success at the Copa America, as they went onto land the title, which was a first for Messi. This cashmo online casino review was a platform that had proven popular throughout from fans, who had been looking to get involved on the event and support Argentina for the victory.

Moving back to Higuain and he has also been on the move recently and signed for Inter Miami CF back in September of 2020. This is a team that is managed by Phil Neville and is currently sitting in mid table, but Higuain will be expected to play a major role in the success of the side, and we are likely to see them continue to climb up the ranks of the MLS, with Higuain at the forefront of this.

Prior to this and Higuain of course was playing for Chelsea, having been loaned to the club from Juventus, before returning and then moving over to the States. His period at Juventus was one of success, where he scored 66 goals from his 149 starts and this continued his previous success from Napoli and of course Real Madrid. Real Madrid was his longest serving club and he again showed his goal scoring abilities at the Spanish club. He made 262 appearances for Real Madrid and in this period, he was able to score 121 goals and pick up a further 56 assists. This is a very impressive return, and he also played a role in the success of the club for a number of years. It is also why he has moved to a number of the best sides across Europe and again proven to be a great asset to each side, helping them to a number of trophies.

Higuain will now be expected to continue his impressive attacking form in America and help the Inter Miami CF to success and maybe some trophies in the near future.