Xtra Time Web Desk: FIFA World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil was suspended on Sunday after just five minutes of play after Brazilian health authorities accused a number of Premier League players in Argentine squad of violating the country’s COVID-19 quarantine rules.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham duo Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso were on the Neo Quimica Arena pitch at Sao Paolo as part of the Argentine line-up when officials from Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa invaded the pitch and stopped the game around five minutes after kickoff.
The trio, along with Aston Villa’s Emiliano Buendia, who was in the stands, had reportedly breached Brazilian rules stating that travellers who have been in the UK, South Africa or India during the previous 14 days are forbidden from entering the country, unless they are Brazilian citizens or have permanent residency.
The regulations were put in place to control the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 583,000 Brazilians.
While the visiting team quickly left the field, the two coaches, along with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and the Brazilian players, gathered at the side of the pitch to discuss the stoppage.
“Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?” Messi said in comments heard on television. “We’ve been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us.”
Messi then returned to the dressing room and at 5pm local time, an hour after the game kicked off, the match was officially suspended.
FIFA also officially confirmed that the match was officially suspended.