Brazil tells 4 England-based Argentina players to quarantine

AP , Sunday 5 Sep 2021

Brazil's health agency had also instructed the four players to return to the ``country of origin'' without giving more details.

Argentina's Giovani Lo Celso, right, and Venezuela's Alexander Gonzalez battle for the ball during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. AP

Four of Argentina's players from the English Premier League were ordered to quarantine by Brazil's health agency ahead of the World Cup qualifier between the South American rivals later Sunday.

The four players were still seen getting on the Argentina team bus ahead of the game.

Brazil's health agency had also instructed the four players to return to the ``country of origin'' without giving more details.

Aston Villa players Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, and Tottenham duo Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, came to play for Argentina despite the Premier League not wanting players to be released for international duty due to the need to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel on their return.

Now they have been caught up in Brazilian quarantine restrictions.

TV footage outside Argentina's hotel in Sao Paulo showed all four England-based players getting on the bus that was to take the team to the NeoQuimica Arena.

Brazil's health agency, Anvisa, said in a statement that all four allegedly told immigration officers they hadn't recently been to the United Kingdom or anywhere else that Brazil puts on its own red list for COVID-19 risks.

``Anvisa considers this situation to be a serious health risk and therefore has guided local health authorities to impose immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from taking any activity and must be stopped from remaining in Brazilian territory,'' the agency said.

Sao Paulo state's health secretariat said Saturday that local investigators had visited Argentina's team hotel to check documents.

Several England-based players did not travel because they would have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine on their return. The decision was guided by their clubs.

Brazil leads South American qualifiers with 21 points after seven wins in seven matches. Argentina is second with 15 points. The hosts beat Chile 1-0 in Santiago on Thursday with Argentina winning 3-1 against Venezuela in Caracas the same day.

Brazil itself lost nine Premier League players for the international window, including five frequent starters. It also lost two Zenit St. Petersburg players minutes before boarding a flight to Chile because their club called them back to Russia.

FIFA granted two additional catchup days for South America in September and October so three qualifiers can be played in each window, rather than the usual two. It also told soccer body CONMEBOL there will be consequences for clubs which don't release players as required, which could mean disciplinary action.

The complaints from European clubs also center on South America's third game being on Sept. 9, a Thursday. That is less than two days before domestic leagues resume in Europe.

Argentina's soccer association has not commented on the decision.

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