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Brazil, Argentina told to play again

AP – FIFA handed out fines and suspensions on Monday while ordering Brazil and Argentina to replay the World Cup qualifier that was abandoned after health agents stormed the field in Sao Paulo to dispute the quarantine status of players.

Four of Argentina’s English Premier League players were accused of falsifying Brazilian coronavirus declarations in September by not stating they had been in red-listed Britain in the previous 14 days, leading to the game being stopped after seven minutes.

Emiliano Buendía, Emiliano Martínez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero will serve two-match bans in FIFA fixtures after “not complying with the FIFA Return to Football International Match Protocol”, the world governing body said in a disciplinary ruling.

FIFA ordered the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) to pay a fine of about USD600,000 for “infringements related to order and security”, and over the abandonment.

The Argentinian Football Association (AFA) was fined USD270,000 for failing to “comply with its obligations in relation to order and security, the preparation of and its participation in the match”, and the abandonment.

AFA President Chiqui Tapia tweeted that the Argentines planned to appeal the ruling.

Brazil’s football confederation said in a statement it disagrees with the decision, questions FIFA about its foundations and will later decide whether to take action on the case.

Police stand guard outside Neo Quimica Arena stadium after the match between Argentina and Brazil was interrupted. PHOTO: AP

FIFA has not set a date or location for the game to be played again. Brazil and Argentina have already sealed a place at the World Cup in Qatar in November ahead of the scheduled conclusion of CONMEBOL qualifying in March, when both teams have another two games to play.

Brazil leads the 10-team round-robin competition with 39 points, four more than Argentina.

The Brazil-Argentina game could take place with domestic-based players, rather than those at clubs in Europe, to stage it outside of the usual window for internationals.

The original game was tied at 0-0 when it was stopped.

There were questions over why the Brazilian officials from the Anvisa agency waited until during the game on September 5 to intervene.

Government body Anvisa said at the time that CBF and AFA coordinated to stop its agents from carrying their decision for days, adding its officials did not seek to suspend the match, only to remove the Argentinian players that had allegedly falsified their coronavirus declarations.

The Argentina squad arrived in Brazil two days earlier from Caracas, where they’d beaten Venezuela 3-1 the previous night. Investigations centred on whether – as Brazil’s health agency alleged – the quartet of players did not tell immigration officers they had been in Britain within the previous two weeks.

A Sao Paulo state health secretariat document obtained by The Associated Press said the organisation received the first rumours about players giving false information to enter the country just before midnight, about 15 hours after they left the airport.

Anvisa first informed Brazilian and Argentine football officials on the Saturday morning that the players had apparently provided false information on their arrival in Brazil.

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