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Argentina players ‘deported’ as squad arrives back home following suspension of Brazil match in farcical scenes

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Argentina players ‘deported’ as squad arrives back home following suspension of Brazil match in farcical scenes

The four Premier League players in the Argentina national team, whose presence caused the suspension of a World Cup qualifier with Brazil in Sao Paulo, have reportedly been deported while the rest of the squad also returned home.

In scenes that caused embarrassment for South America on the world stage once more, Brazilian health agents and federal police officers entered the pitch at the Corinthians Arena to halt the action with barely 10 minutes played on Sunday.

When landing in South America's largest country, Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero allegedly hid the fact they had been in the UK.

At present, all foreign travelers who have been in red-listed Britain within the past two weeks are expected to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Brazil, due to fears of the Covid Delta variant.

That meant the quartet would not have been been able to form part of Lionel Scaloni's squad for the latest installment of the continent's biggest international fixture, given they allegedly arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday at around 8am.

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Confusion reigned in the Brazil vs Argentina World Cup qualifying match. © Twitter
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Scaloni fielding three of them for the vital clash, the local officials wished to arrest and deport the offending parties as commentators on Brazilian TV giant Globo lamented a "global shame"

Both teams headed down the tunnel, while the Selecao later came back out for an impromptu training session as the Brazilian FA, the CBF, and South American health authority Anvisa bickered among one another.

Separately, there have also been reports that the Argentine team barricaded their locker room so that Anvisa and the Federal Police couldn't enter, and refused to allow them access.

Globo ended their broadcast by cutting to a dubbed version of Hollywood sci-fi disaster epic Pacific Rim, yet outlets such as their sports news arm Globesporte and Argentine counterpart TyC worked around the clock to provide the latest updates on the saga.

Later on Sunday evening, the latter outlet reported that the four men had returned to Buenos Aires with the rest of the squad and while not detained before doing so, had been classed as deportees. 

The reigning Copa America champions play Bolivia at home on Friday, and there is no word on whether the match against Brazil can possibly be replayed before then, though it seems highly unlikely.

At some point, though, the quartet are expected to head to Croatia, as only a 10-day quarantine is required to re-enter the UK from there, with Aston Villa pair Martinez and Buendia possibly traveling back to Europe today.

To this end, when speaking to Radio Rivadavia, Martinez's brother Alejandro said: "The only thing he knows is that he will not be able to travel from Brazil to Croatia, he is deported and has to go through Argentina."

In the case of total abandonment of the match, it has been suggested that Brazil, who have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home, should be punished with a 3-0 defeat at the very least while Argentina are awarded the three points. 

Accused of letting Conmebol bully them into letting the four players feature, the CBF has expressed shock at Anvisa's actions as Lionel Messi also questioned why the authorities had waited three days to take action since Argentina's arrival before the weekend.

"We emphasize that we were absolutely surprised by the moment in which the action of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) took place, with the game already started, since Anvisa could have exercised its activity in a much more effective way, at different times and days before the game," it began in a statement.

"The role of the CBF was always in an attempt to promote understanding between the entities involved so that the protocols could be fulfilled satisfactorily and the game could be played."

Anvisa has also spoken out, explaining that it notified the Federal Police and from Sunday morning "until the beginning of the game, it made efforts, with police support, to enforce the quarantine measures imposed on players, [plus] their immediate segregation and transportation to the airport."

"Attempts were frustrated," it claimed, "since the departure of the delegation from the hotel, and even for a considerable time before the start of the game, when Anvisa had its [operation] postponed already in the facilities of the arena."

In their own correspondence, the Argentine FA expressed "deep discomfort at the suspension of the match between the Argentine National Team and the Brazilian National Team in Sao Paulo."

"Like the CBF, the AFA is surprised by the actions of Anvisa once the game has started. It should be noted that the Argentina Delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by Conmebol for the normal development of the Qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022.

"Following the report from the Conmebol officials and the match referee, the information will be forwarded to the competent FIFA body in accordance with current regulations.

"Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition," it finished. 

Though Argentina's players seemed at peace, with Paulo Dybala having a laugh at Messi's expense as he donned a photographer's bib, and the PSG icon uploading an Instagram story which picture him relaxed with teammates, their coach Scaloni was upset but didn't want to point the finger at anyone specifically. 

"I'm very sad and I'm not looking for anyone to blame," said the coach, whose opposite number Tite looked utterly dejected while sitting in the dugout as the scenes played out.

"If something happened or not, it was not the time to make this intervention," he added.

To TYC, Scaloni also insisted: "We were NEVER told they couldn’t play. A CONMEBOL delegate told us to go ahead and head to the stadium."

Tite's tenure has recently been made complicated by the meddling of president Jair Bolsonaro, against and in support of whom mass protests that could turn violent are expected tomorrow.

Attempting to have him replaced by now-Flamengo boss Renato Gaucho, the leader took umbrage to Tite's support of the players when they didn't want to participate in the Copa America that was moved from Argentina and Colombia to their covid-ravaged country.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Bolsonaro's son Flavio, who has previously called Tite a "hypocrite" and an "apple shiner" of the ex-president Lula da Silva who will run against his father in 2022 in the general election, waded into the matter on Twitter. 

Accusing the Argentines of malandragem - best translated from Portuguese as a form of rogue trickery and dishonesty to try and gain an advantage - he added that the federal police "has to investigate who did not take action before the game and Argentina should be severely punished"

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