The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier between South America heavyweights-Brazil and Argentina- played for only four minutes on Sunday before the referee stopped it in farcical circumstances.
Brazilian health officials stormed the Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo to effect the arrest of three England-based Argentina players – Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia and Giovani Lo Celso and unattached goalkeeper, Cristian Romero- because the players needed to observe COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days after entering Brazil and could not play the match, which was already on.
The Venezuelan referee Jesus Valenzuela attempted to calm the situation by ordering away the officials but with players from both countries joining the argument and to forestall any chaos and violence, the Argentina players walked off the pitch and back to their changing rooms.
Whilst the manner of effecting the ‘arrest’ of players was farcical, Brazilian COVID-19 regulations state that visitors who have been in the United Kingdom 14 days before entering Brazil must quarantine upon arrival for 14 days. The UK advised residents not to visit the red-listed countries or else they will have to quarantine for 14 days on getting back to the UK.
These countries were red-listed because of high COVID-19 rates, the occurrence of variants, plus a lack of genomic surveillance capabilities.
Brazil lead the South America qualifying section with an excellent 100% record from their seven matches with Argentina second, six points behind Brazil, also with an unbeaten record. The last match between these two countries was the Copa America final in July, which Argentina won 1-0.