Brazil and Argentina hit the pitch for the rematch after the previous Covid disruption

The World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Argentina in September, which was suspended just minutes after kick-off when health officials ran onto the pitch, must be restarted, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Monday.

The match at the NeoQuimica Arena in Sao Paulo was halted five minutes later when Brazilian health officials invaded the pitch to prevent Argentina players based in England from playing, saying they had violated the country’s COVID-19 quarantine rules.

Officials said the Argentines had violated rules that say travelers who have been in the UK, South Africa or India in the past two weeks are barred from entering Brazil unless they are citizens or have permanent residence.

Brazilian officials said the players misled border officials by declaring that they had not been in the red list country in the 14 days prior to the match.

Argentine officials have said they believe the same protocols used at the Copa America in Brazil in June last year were in place for World Cup qualifiers to allow teams to travel across the continent. The South American Football Association confirmed this interpretation.

But FIFA said the two countries’ inability to complete the match required disciplinary action.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee concluded that the abandonment of the match stems from several shortcomings of the parties involved,” FIFA said in a statement.

She added that the match “must be repeated at a time and place determined by FIFA.”

The disciplinary committee also banned four Argentina players residing in England – Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovanni Lo Celso and Christian Romero – from two international matches.

FIFA also imposed fines of 500,000 Swiss francs ($540,000) and 200,000 Swiss francs on the Brazilian and Argentine soccer federations for failing to ensure “order and security.”

The Argentine Football Association said it would appeal the decision.

“The decision does not correspond to the facts,” the AFC said, asking FIFA to provide the legal grounds for the decision so that it could prepare an appeal.

The Brazilian Football Confederation also criticized the decision and said it was deciding what action should be taken.

Both teams have already qualified unbeaten for Qatar, with Brazil leading the South American qualifying group, four points behind Argentina. Both teams have three matches to play.

The final scheduled round of qualifiers will take place in late March.

(Reuters)

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