FIFA initiated disciplinary proceedings against Argentina and Brazil on Tuesday for the turmoil that resulted in the suspension of their World Cup qualifier after Brazilian health authorities stormed the pitch to challenge the quarantine status of the players.
FIFA cited current legal proceedings as the reason it could not disclose information on the alleged rule violations or comment on whether it, along with South American confederation CONMEBOL, was partly to blame for the debacle that resulted in the game being suspended after seven minutes on Sunday.
FIFA did not explain which regulations Argentina and Brazil’s football federations were being probed for violating. Four Argentina’s English Premier League players were charged with violating quarantine regulations in Sao Paulo and falsifying Brazilian coronavirus reports by failing to state that they had been in red-listed Britain in the preceding 14 days.
“Following a review of the official match reports relating to the FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Argentina, FIFA can announce that disciplinary proceedings involving both member associations have been launched,” FIFA stated in a statement.
However, FIFA itself may be partly to blame, given the organizers of the qualification nominated the match delegate, whose responsibility is to ensure that regulations are followed.
The Associated Press obtained a Brazilian health ministry document sent to CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez, which stated that a final request for a quarantine exemption was rejected for Aston Villa players Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, as well as Tottenham duo Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero.
4 players allegedly give false information
According to the same document, Argentina youth team coach Fernando Ariel Batista signed out documents for all of the players, despite the denied doing so or even being in Brazil on Monday.
Quarantine was suggested rather than deporting the players, as Anvisa noted was within its capabilities. According to the Sao Paulo state document, Argentina was also encouraged to seek a last-minute exemption from the Brazilian government.
However, in a message given to Dominguez on Sunday ahead of the start, Brazilian authorities stated that the players were being advised to quarantine at the hotel in order to comply with COVID-19 standards.
That did not happen, and it required health inspectors entering an already-in-progress match to confront the four players, who were eventually allowed to travel back to Buenos Aires. Federal police in Brazil are investigating them for allegedly submitting fake information upon their arrival in Sao Paulo.
The Associated Press has obtained two documents from the Brazilian Football Confederation, dated July and last Thursday, that underline new government quarantine regulations given in June for tourists who were in Britain two weeks prior to their arrival.
The documents were written to Jose Astigarraga, secretary-general of South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL, with copies sent to the Argentine and Peruvian soccer federations. Brazil is scheduled to host Peru in another World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
The CBF, Brazil’s football association, later stated that it “followed its institutional obligation as match host entity by alerting all those involved about the health legislation in effect” in those documents. It further stated that it aimed to “create an agreement among the entities so that health protocols could be followed in order for the match to take place.”
The guidelines also indicate the potential of requesting extraordinary waivers to the office of Brazil’s Chief of Staff, which stated on Monday that no requests for Argentine players had been received. This adds to the confusion about what the CBF did wrong.