Why was Brazil v Argentina abandoned last night? Here's what happened at the World Cup qualifier match - and why Brazilian health officials intervened

The World Cup qualifying fixture between Brazil and Argentina national teams on Sunday 5 September came to an abrupt end, with Argentinian players like Lionel Messi seen leaving the Sao Paulo stadium – here’s why

Brazil vs Argentina abandoned: Argentina's Lionel Messi walks off the field after the qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 against Brazil was interrupted by health officials in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday 5 September. (Image credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil vs Argentina abandoned: Argentina's Lionel Messi walks off the field after the qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 against Brazil was interrupted by health officials in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday 5 September. (Image credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Just minutes into the 2022 World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina’s national teams at the Neo Química Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the country’s health officials stormed on to the pitch over an alleged coronavirus breach by the visitors' England-based players.

The Group E match was eventually called off after the disruption, with reports at the time stating that Brazilian health officials were attempting to deport Argentine Premier League players, Tottenham's Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso and Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia for breaking Brazil’s quarantine rules.

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Here’s the full story.

Why was Brazil vs Argentina abandoned?

After getting off to a fiery start at the Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, the Group E World Cup 2022 fixture was disrupted by men in suits flooding onto the pitch roughly ten minutes into the Brazil-Argentina match.

It soon transpired that the interruption had been made by officials from Brazil’s health authority and police, as video footage showed Argentine forward Lionel Messi donning an official photographer’s bib, talking with officials and Brazil players like fellow Paris St-Germain forward Neymar.

Argentina's football team bus leaves the Neo Quimica Arena, also known as Corinthians Arena, after the suspension of their South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 against Brazil, in Sao Paulo (Image credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazilian and Argentinian media quoted him as saying: "We have been here for three days. Did you wait for the game to start? Why didn't you warn us before?"

The Argentina team responded to the entrance of officials believed to be from Brazil's health authority and the police by walking off the pitch and down the tunnel.

The Argentina national team posted a picture to Twitter of squad members on a plane on Sunday captioned "We're going home!", as the Argentine FA said it had "deep discomfort" surrounding the suspension of the match.

In a statement, it added: "Like the CBF, the AFA is surprised by the actions of ANVISA once the game started.

"It should be noted that the Albiceleste Delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by CONMEBOL for the normal progression of the Qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022."Scotland World Cup 2022 qualifiers: When does the Scotland national team play next? Full list of fixtures ahead of qualifying games

Why did Brazilian health officials intervene in the World Cup qualifying fixture?

According to ANVISA, the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency, Argentina's four Premier League players - Tottenham's Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso and Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia - allegedly declared false information on official forms to the country's authorities and in doing so broken quarantine rules.

"After a meeting with the health authorities, it was confirmed, after consulting the passports of the four players involved, that the athletes failed to comply with the rule for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil," an ANVISA statement said.

ANVISA reported that the players in question declared they had not passed through the UK in the last 14 days, which would have necessitated quarantining on arrival.

Its statement added: "ANVISA considers the situation a serious health risk, and therefore advised the local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of players, who are prevented from participating in any activity and must be prevented from remaining in Brazilian territory."

Argentina arrived in Brazil from Venezuela following their victory there on Friday and boss Lionel Scaloni said "at no time" were his squad told they could not play the match.

He added in quotes reported by the official Argentina Twitter account: "We wanted to play the match, the Brazilian footballers too."

When will the Brazil v Argentina match resume?

South American Football Confederation CONMEBOL announced on Twitter that the match had been suspended on the decision of the referee and that the referee and match delegate would now provide a report for FIFA's disciplinary committee, which would decide what action to take.

For now, the equivalent matchday six of the South American group qualifiers for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar remains suspended – with no date yet announced for the rescheduling of the match.

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The match has now been postponed for a second time after being pushed back from an original March 2021 scheduling due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional reporting by PA Sport Staff

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