FIFA chief labels Brazil postponement

FIFA has opened an investigation into the postponement of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier with Brazil with their president Gianni Infantino labelling the events “crazy” while Tottenham Hotspur were reported to be ready to take disciplinary action against their Argentine players.

Brazilian health authorities intervened on the pitch on Sunday after accusing four Argentine Premier League players 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 as part of the Argentine line-up when officials from Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa walked onto the field and stopped the game around five minutes after kickoff.

Aston Villa midfielder Emiliano Buendia had also travelled from the UK and was in the stands.

Anvisa said that Brazilian rules make clear that travellers who have been in the UK, South Africa or India during the previous 14 days are forbidden from entering, unless they are Brazilian citizens or have permanent residency.

FIFA said they have received reports from match officials and were gathering further information.

“The information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course, FIFA said in a statement.

Infantino, in a video address to the European Club Association’s general assembly, said the situation was a reminder of the difficulties the organisation had been facing during the pandemic.

“We saw what happened with the game between Brazil and Argentine, two of South America’s most glorious teams. Some officials, police, security officials entered the pitch after a few minutes of the game to take away some players – it is crazy but we need to deal with these challenges, these issues which come on top of the COVID crisis, Infantino said.

Alejandro Martinez, brother of Emiliano, said that the players were due to fly from Argentina to Croatia later on Monday in order to avoid the ten day mandatory hotel quarantine on return to the UK from a red-list country.

“They will travel to Croatia to do their quarantine there and then go to England, Alejandro told radio station La Oral Deportiva. “That was the conditions set by Aston Villa.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said that Martinez and Buendia had been released from the national team, meaning they will not take part in Friday’s qualifier against Bolivia.

The tweet from the AFA did not make reference to the two Tottenham players.

The Tottenham players travelled to the game without the permission of their club and the website said the pair could expect fines on their return to England.

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