Brazil and Argentina to replay abandoned qualifier; Martinez, Lo Celso, Romero, Buendia banned

By Samindra Kunti

February 15 – FIFA have ordered Brazil and Argentina to replay their World Cup qualifier that was abandoned last September when Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch in Sao Paulo over alleged Covid-19 accusations by Argentinian visitors. 

“After a thorough investigation of the various factual elements and in light of the applicable regulations, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided that the match should be replayed on a date and at a location to be decided by FIFA,” said a statement from the global governing body.

FIFA said that “the abandonment of the match stemmed from several deficiencies of the parties involved towards their respective responsibilities.”

Last year, Brazil hosted Argentina in a World Cup qualifier and in an extraordinary and unprecedented sequence of events, officials of the Brazilian health authority Anvisa stormed the field after four minutes.

They had earlier issued a decision that Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso, Christian Romero and Emiliano Buendia should all be deported for breaches of the Covid-19 protocol applicable on Brazilian soil at the time.

According to Anvisa, the Premier League quartet provided “false information” upon entering Brazil. The match was abandoned amid chaotic scenes with the visitors retiring to the dressing room and the Brazilians staying on the pitch to avoid forfeiting the game.

FIFA has banned the four Argentine players for two matches each for “not complying with the FIFA Return to Football International Match Protocol.”

The world federation also fined both the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the Argentineanian Football Association (AFA) CHF 500,000 and CHF 200,000 respectively. Both federations were also fined CHF 50,000 for the abandonment of the match.

The AFA said it will appeal the decision.

Both Brazil and Argentina have already ensured their qualification for the World Cup in Qatar, with two rounds of qualifying matches left to be played in March.