Sunday, September 05, 2021

A most memorable non-match

Brazil-Argentina is one of the greatest clashes in the world, and today the two giants were to play a world cup qualifier today in Sao Paulo. The match started normally and I think all fans, including myself watching on TV, were hoping to watch a great football match, but instead it was a memorable show for its farcical scenes.

Five minutes into the match some officials ran onto the pitch and huge discussions erupted, which ended with the Argentine team walking off the pitch and the match suspended. The officials were apparently Brazilian health officials, who were there to deport four Argentine players, whom they alleged had breached Brazilian COVID-19 rules to enter Brazil. 

The four players are Premier League players, and according to Brazilian rules, people who have been in Britain must quarantine for 14 days. It was due to this that Brazil had not called up any of its players in the Premier League, after players had been disallowed to travel by their clubs. Argentina, on the other hand, had called up the players despite their clubs trying to block it, and the players had allegedly lied in the COVID-19 forms when entering Brazil. At the same time, Argentina appears to allege that they are under CONMEBOL and FIFA rules that have provided exceptions to quarantines; rules that were introduced for the Copa America.

There is no doubt whatsoever that anyone, including football players, must fulfill quarantine rules. But it is also the case that when these rules are not clear, then guessing becomes the rule. It appears that neither the Argentine Football Federation nor CONMEBOL had checked up with Brazilian authorities about the presence of the players. At the same time, the Brazilian football association appeared to have no problem with the Argentina PL players, and for three days Argentina were in Brazil, but only when the match had started, the Brazilian authorities decided to take action on the players, which appears if not farcical, at least strange.

In the long-winded TV images from the discussions it was nevertheless refreshing to see Brazilian and Argentina players being confused together, and as the good friends they are, smile at the farcical situation at a moment when they should have been facing each other in a footballing contest.

In the end this is another example of chaotic and disorganised football, that adds nothing positive to South America's image of being the home of the world's best footballers, but also the world's worst football organisers...

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