WC Qualification South America

Argentina trio Emi Martinez, Gio Lo Celso and Cristian Romero start against Brazil despite receiving deportation order

20:10 EAT 05/09/2021
Venezuela Argentina Eliminatorias Sudamericanas 02092021
The Premier League-based players are accused of giving false information to health authorities after flying in from Caracas

Three Argentina players who have been ordered to leave Brazil after breaking quarantine regulations have nevertheless been cleared to play Sunday's World Cup qualifier. 

Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso travelled with their nation for the September international round despite the Premier League's restrictions on travel. 

They were ultimately given permission to travel to the Arena Corinthians for the game, with Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso all starting for the Copa America champions. 

What was said? 

"Following the report that four Argentine players entered Brazil in defiance of the country's sanitary regulations, allegedly giving false information to the Brazilian health authority, Anvisa met with representatives of the Health Ministry and Disease Control Coordination of Sao Paulo's State Health Department," a statement explained on Sunday. 

"After meeting with health authorities it was confirmed, following revision of the passports of the four players involved, that the athletes broke the rules for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil, which decrees that foreign travellers who have been in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Northern Ireland and India in the last 14 days are banned from entering Brazil. 

"The players in question declared they had not been in any of those four restricted countries in the last 14 days. They arrived in Brazil on a flight from Caracas which landed in Guarulhos (Sao Paulo). Then, unofficial reports came to Anvisa over alleged false declarations from the travellers. 

 "Anvisa considers the situation a severe health risk, and has therefore instructed local health authorities to impose immediate quarantine measures on the players, who are banned from engaging in any activity and will be unable to remain in Brazilian territory." 

The bigger picture

Argentina's quartet were among the few Premier League players able to arrive in South America, with Brazil losing no fewer than nine players as a result of the Premier League's decision not to release travellers bound for countries on the UK's red list. 

Martinez and Lo Celso both started in Thursday's 3-1 victory over Venezuela in Caracas, with Buendia left out of the match-day squad and Romero hoping to return on Sunday after serving a one-match suspension. 

Reports of the quartet's infraction emerged following their arrival in Brazil, although CONMEBOL maintained on Saturday that their presence was permissable as they formed part of the national team's bubble. 

"Our tournaments are played inside a sanitary bubble which excuses delegation from going into quarantine for 72 hours," CONMEBOL general secretary Gonzalo Belloso told Clarin

"The World Cup qualifiers are played with the same model. We have told the Brazilian authorities and the CBF [Brazilian Football Confederation] who are the hosts and must guarantee the game is played." 

Following Anvisa's statement, police were seen outside the Argentina team hotel in Sao Paulo as negotiations continued at a furious pace just two hours before the game was scheduled to kick off at Arena Corinthians.

A deal was eventually struck which saw the four board the team bus and leave for the stadium, as Argentina repeat the same starting line-up which beat Brazil to the Copa America title back in July with a 1-0 victory in the Estadio Maracana.

Buendia is the only member of the group which will play no part in Sunday's match as he was not included in coach Lionel Scaloni's squad for the second successive game.

Further reading