Wild scenes in Brazil as health authorities stop game and try to deport four Argentina stars
The match itself lasted just six minutes before play was halted.
There were incredible scenes at the Neo Quimica Arena, this evening, as Brazilian federal police and health authorities attempted to gain access to the pitch to detain and then deport three Argentina stars.
The World Cup qualifier was tied at 0-0 when the health officials tried to get on to the pitch. They were seeking to get hold of Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Romero, as well as Emi Buendia, who was not playing.
The four Argentinean players were all said to be in breach of Brazil's Covid-19 protocols. Travel for elite sportspeople is permitted in the country, but not for individuals travelling from certain countries. As the United Kingdom is on a restricted list, the four players were all said to have breached protocols.
The players would have had to quarantine for 14 days, upon entering the country, having travelled from the UK. That did not happen, so the health authorities warned that the Premier League quartet should immediately leave the country.
Argentina went ahead and selected Martinez, the Aston Villa goalkeeper, and Spurs duo Romero and Lo Celso. With the game underway, but not for long, the health authorities, backed by federal police officers, arrived on the scene to halt the game.
Full scenes here as Brazilian health authorities try to detain and deport Argentina's four Premier League based players 😮
Clip: @PremierSportsTV pic.twitter.com/XyiOK74Y5Z
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 5, 2021
Players from both Brazil and Argentina pleaded with the authorities, and match officials, for the game to resume, but a decision was taken to take both sides off the pitch.
There was a long delay as officials from both sides tried to get the game back on. Respective captains Lionel Messi and Dani Alves were seen chatting amicably in the tunnel as the debates raged on.
Lionel Messi returns to the pitch to talk with Neymar and the coaches as the chaos continues to unfold 👀 pic.twitter.com/NNiMBWYV3X
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) September 5, 2021
There was then an update from the Premier Sports commentator:
"We are getting word that the traffic authorities in São Paulo are now organising for a coach to take the Argentine squad away from the stadium... That is not official, that is just what we're hearing from the stadium."
With the game suspended, it remains to be seen when it can resume or what the implications are for both sides.