Brazil vs. Argentina World Cup qualifier suspended as four Argentinian players accused of breaking Covid-19 protocols


After passing Pele in goals scored by a South American soccer player, Messi once again finds himself in the GOAT conversation.

On Sept. 5, minutes after the much-awaited World Cup match between Argentina and Brazil kicked off, Brazilian health officials stormed the field looking to deport four Argentinian players accused of violating COVID-19 health protocols. After the match was stopped, the referee ultimately suspended the game, pending an investigation and disciplinary hearing from FIFA.

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) looked to deport Argentinian players Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendía, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, claiming they broke COVID-19 health protocols. Anvisa claimed the players, who also play for England’s Premier League, lied about traveling to the UK in the last 14 days. According to Brazilian health protocol, any traveler who traveled to the UK in the past 14 days cannot enter the country unless they are citizens or permanent residents. 

As reported in  a statement from Anvisa, the Argentinian team knew about this issue days before the match and were warned of players who were in violation of health protocols. The issue was not resolved, which  led officials to stop the match on Sunday, with the help of Brazilian federal police.

Once the match was halted, the Argentinian team left the field immediately, while the team coaches — as well as team captain Lionel Messi — stayed behind to speak with Brazilian health officials. After about an hour, the referee suspended the match while police escorted the Argentinian team off  the premises. 

There is currently  a lot of uncertainty and speculation surrounding the issue. Until FIFA conducts their official investigation, we won’t know  whether Anvisa or the Argentinian players are telling the truth. 

The way that the issue was publicly handled left many people shocked. Many people, including Argentina’s coach and team captain Messi, were left wondering why officials felt the need to storm the field after the game had already started, instead of approaching them before the game.  According to Messi, the team was at the stadium an hour before the game began , giving Anvisa officials ample time to handle the issue. However, Anvisa claims they  team many warnings and plenty of time to comply with the protocol. 

In my opinion, if Anvisa had warned the team ahead of time, then they were left with no choice but to stop the match. The most important thing to the players, it seems, was playing the game. Anvisa’s main priority was keeping their citizens safe, and enforcing protocols set in place to do that. While it is exciting that we are returning to matches with fans, it’s  important to remember that we are living through a brutal pandemic. Lastly, I believe preserving the health and well-being of others is more important than watching a match.