Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina has been suspended after the Brazilian health authorities and police entered the field of play to detain four Argentinian players who failed to quarantine after entering the country.
In utterly surreal scenes, the game was halted after ten minutes following the incident. Prior to kick off Premier League quartet Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia were investigated by the Brazilian authorities for a breach of coronavirus regulations.
It was alleged that they failed to declare that they had been in England prior to arriving in Brazil. Currently, anyone doing this is required to quarantine for 14 days but the players did not – for obvious reasons.
Following an investigation it seemed that the foursome were in the clear with Lo Celso and Romero both starting the game while Martinez and Buendia were named on the bench.
However, in the opening exchanges Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch in an attempt to detain the players.
Soon after the Argentina team returned to the dressing room with captain Lionel Messi emerging to play mediator after a few minutes.
The incredible incident is the latest twist in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Games have already been postponed after European clubs refused to release their players last season and a similar argument raged before the current international break.
This time around, though, clubs have taken different approaches. For instance, Manchester City barred their players from travelling to South America with Ederson and Gabriel Jesus forced to stay at home. However, other Premier League sides did release their players.
If the game is abandoned CONMEBOL face a race against time to complete the qualification process before the World Cup kicks off next year. There were calls for last summer’s Copa America to be used as qualifying as well, but these were ignored at the time.