Agents from the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) entered the pitch at Arena Corinthians, in São Paulo, last Sunday (5) to interrupt the match between Brazil and Argentina, valid for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. According to the agency, four players from Argentina have violated the Brazilian quarantine rules adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Athletes Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero were in the stadium even after the warning from Anvisa. Three of them were even in the starting lineup until the moment when the action of health agents led to the suspension of the game.
Understand in five points what happened at Arena Corinthians and what could happen in the future:
What made Anvisa act against the Argentines
On June 23, the government published an ordinance in the Official Gazette of the Union with changes in the restrictions on the entry of foreigners by air from the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, South Africa and India. The decision was a reflection of the advance of the Delta variant of the new coronavirus around the world.
According to the new rules, entry into the country of any foreigner coming or passing through the United Kingdom without first going through a 14-day quarantine was prohibited.
Four of the players from the Argentine squad are active in English football, and were present at the commitment of their teams between 28 and 29 August, which makes it impossible for them to have been able to quarantine.
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Why only four players didn’t have to quarantine
The restriction for people from the UK only applies to foreigners. In addition, clubs in the United Kingdom refused to give in to teams players from countries included on the British government’s Covid-19 red list, precisely because they would be forced to quarantine upon returning from international engagements.
Brazil decided not to call up nine athletes who play in the English league. Argentina, in turn, made an agreement so that their players could be released: they would return to Europe soon after Sunday’s match, which would give them time to fulfill the stipulated isolation time.
What punishments the Argentines could suffer if they continued in Brazil
The ordinance that governs the quarantine of foreigners in Brazil provides that those who do not comply with orders may suffer civil, administrative and criminal penalties, in addition to automatic deportation.
The possibility of deportation was not ruled out. In an interview with CNN During the game’s stoppage, the director-president of Anvisa, Antônio Barra Torres, stated that the permanence of the four Argentine players in Brazil was a breach of sanitary rules and that they were at risk of deportation.
After giving testimony to the Federal Police, all members of the national team’s delegation left the country.
Reactions after suspension of the game
Although Anvisa said it spoke with the federations on Saturday, both the AFA, the Argentine football federation, and the CBF showed surprise with the action at Arena Corinthians.
In a statement, CBF said it “deeply regrets” the decision to interfere with the game and “was absolutely surprised at the moment when the action of the National Health Surveillance Agency took place, with the match having already started, as Anvisa could having exercised their activity in a much more adequate way in the various moments and days prior to the game”, said the entity.
The AFA, in turn, stated that the Argentines followed all the sanitary protocols stipulated by the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) for the qualifications.
The agency also posted on its social networks a statement by Lionel Scaloni stating that “at no time” were they informed that players from English clubs could not play.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) September 5, 2021
What happens now?
In a statement, Conmebol informed that the referee and the game commissioner will send a report to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which will determine the steps to be followed regarding a possible punishment or a new performance of the game.
If it is decided that Argentina abandoned the game and was blamed for the confusion, Brazil will be declared the winner 3-0. If the decision is that the game could not continue due to lack of conditions given by Brazil, the defeat will be Brazilian.
There is still a third alternative: the game be resumed. If FIFA decides that the reason for the stoppage was “force majeure”, the rule is that the match is played from the time it was interrupted, at five minutes of the first half.