The Ministry of Health denied this Sunday (5) a request for exceptional authorization so that four Argentine players could be released from the quarantine period, provided for in the current health regulations of the country, and act against the Brazilian team.
The application was rejected 51 minutes before the match between Argentina and Brazil started at Neo Química Arena, in São Paulo, for the World Cup qualifiers. The match was interrupted by agents of Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) with 6 minutes of the ball rolling.
“Considering all the notes made after the epidemiological investigation, it is understood that there was an omission of information on the part of the Argentinean delegation regarding the ‘travel history’ of four players, thus incurring a sanitary infraction”, says the Health letter, to which the sheet had access.
According to Anvisa, Argentine athletes failed to comply with quarantine rules against Covid-19. The Federal Police was also called.
Sought, the Ministry of Health said that Anvisa manifested itself against the request for exceptional authorization from the Argentines on Saturday (4) and immediately the state and municipal health agencies were notified.
“The folder clarifies that the Argentine delegation was informed of the decision on the morning of September 5, through the Federal Police, activated by Anvisa”, says the text. The ministry followed the agency’s guidance.
It is not clear, however, whether the portfolio refers to the decision of the agency or the ministry itself, which was only made official on Sunday afternoon.
Four Argentine national team players gave false information and concealed that they were in the UK in the last 14 days: Emiliano Martínez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero. They play on Premier League football teams.
Even if they boarded with a negative Covid-19 test, says the Health document, there was still a risk of presenting infection and only manifesting symptoms after landing in Brazil, “which could contaminate and spread the disease”.
“In keeping with the precautionary principle, exceptional entry measures into the country must be adopted before boarding, which was ignored for the case at hand,” the document states.
The Argentines’ request was made on Saturday (4). The letter of the assistant executive secretary for Health, Alessandro Glauco dos Anjos de Vasconcelos, who rejected the request, was signed electronically at 15:09 on Sunday.
The document is addressed to the president of Conmebol, Alejandro Domínguez. The Argentine delegation’s request did not reach the Civil House. The match started at 16 hours.
“Therefore, we recommend that the four athletes remain in quarantine at the hotel, complying with the sanitary rules in force in Brazil”, wrote Vasconcelos.
According to government interlocutors, there was a succession of mistakes on the part of the Argentines.
In addition to skipping the UK tour, they ignored the quarantine guidelines and hotel contacts before heading to the game. At the stadium, they were locked in the locker room, without allowing the entry of Anvisa agents.
The Ministry of Health based the decision on a technical statement from the Ministry of Health and Surveillance Department, and on an opinion from Anvisa, subsidized by the Center for Epidemiological Surveillance, of the Health Department of the State of São Paulo.
This Sunday, the ministry said, after the interruption of the match, to support Anvisa’s decision to try to remove Argentina’s players from the Neo Química Arena.
“The Ministry of Health informs that it supports and recognizes the recommendations of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), the health authority responsible for the country’s health surveillance actions,” said the folder, in a statement.
São Paulo Epidemiological Surveillance Report, also obtained by sheet, shows that the Argentine delegation received, at least two different times on Saturday (4), the recommendation that Argentine players should be quarantined in the rooms of the hotel where they were staying.
The measure should be respected “until the request for exceptional circulation in the country was formally requested, and that it could be analyzed by the Ministry of Health and there was a final position by the Civil House.”
The document also says that the “travellers’ health declarations” of the athletes, required to enter the country, omitted passage through the United Kingdom in the field of “travel history”.
The statements, the report points out, were filled in by a single person, Fernando Ariel Batista, from the AFA (Argentine Football Association). It is the same name as the coach of Argentina’s under-20 team, who denies having participated in any bureaucratic procedure for the senior team. The form is digital and is completed before check-in, according to Anvisa.
“I roundly deny such statements. My task at the AFA is as coach of the under-23/under-20 teams. We will seek to clarify this with my advisors,” he posted on Twitter.
The same report by the Epidemiological Surveillance of São Paulo brings a step by step of the actions taken in the case.
According to the document, the first alert about the suspicion of non-compliance with the rules occurred late on Friday night (3) after a statement from Anvisa to the Cievs (Strategic Information Center in Health Surveillance), of the federal government, which triggered the unit in São Paulo.
In the report, Anvisa says it received a report of a rumor that four athletes who work in clubs in England would have entered Brazil in breach of Ordinance 655/2021, which restricts access to those who have been in that country for less than 14 days.
A first meeting on the case was held with the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) and Conmebol on Saturday morning, when the players’ passports were checked and the omission was proven.
“The team leader of the Argentine national team, as well as members of Conmebol and CBF were notified of the occurrence, having received instructions that the four players in question should remain in their rooms, not being able to participate in the training at Arena Neo Química. for 18 hours and 30 minutes, complying with the recommended quarantine period until another orientation was passed on by the health authority”, informs the report.
The recommendation was reinforced in a meeting at 5:00 pm, also on Saturday, with Anvisa, Ministry of Health, Health Department of São Paulo, in which Conmebol, CBF and delegation from Argentina also participated.
The CBF stated, in a note published this Monday afternoon (6), that it sent the doctor Roberto Nishimura to the meeting at the Marriott hotel, in Guarulhos, only as a listener.
“As I understand that this is not a matter of his attribution, at no time was there any manifestation by the CBF representative to the authorities regarding the health issue of the four Argentine athletes, either in the sense of releasing or vetoing their participation in the game”, he says excerpt from the note.
Shortly before, RT-PCR test results of players with negative results were presented.
According to the report, representatives of Anvisa informed the meeting that the failure to comply with the rules by the Argentina team would be “repeated” and that the Federal Police would be called, “it is up to the local health authority to issue the notice of infraction to comply with the quarantine period in the hotel until the final opinion on the granting of the exceptionality of circulation was issued”.
The document then emphasizes that Conmebol and the Argentine delegation were instructed to follow the recommendations and formalize the request for exceptionality “with the utmost urgency, so that the analysis of the documentation would be feasible before the game took place”.
After the meeting ended, however, the São Paulo surveillance team was informed that the players had not complied with the rules of staying at the hotel and had gone to training.
The surveillance then informs that it would fine the Argentine delegation for non-compliance with the recommendation given for the group to stay at the hotel until there was a new positioning by Anvisa, Saúde and Casa Civil.
A note released by Anvisa hours before the match informed that the athletes had again failed to comply with the quarantine rules and that, for this reason, the agency would call the Federal Police.
In a statement released on Sunday night, Anvisa says that “until the start of the game, it made an effort, with police support, to enforce the quarantine measure imposed on players.”
“Attempts were frustrated, since the departure of the delegation from the hotel, and even for a considerable time before the start of the game, when the agency had its actions postponed already in the premises of the Itaquera arena,” he says.