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Brazil v Argentina World Cup qualifier ended after 5 minutes to be replayed

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The World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina in September that was suspended just minutes after kickoff when health officials ran on to the pitch must be replayed, football’s governing body FIFA said on Monday.

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

The officials said the Argentines had breached rules stating travellers who had been in the UK, South Africa or India during the previous two weeks were forbidden from entering Brazil unless they were citizens or had permanent residency.

The players had misled border officials by declaring they had not been in a red list country during the 14 days before the game, the Brazilian officials said.

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

FIFA, though, said the two nations’ inability to complete the match demanded disciplinary measures.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has concluded that the abandonment of the match stemmed from several deficiencies of the parties involved,” FIFA said in statement.

The match “should be replayed on a date and at a location to be decided by FIFA,” it said.

The disciplinary committee also banned Argentina’s four England-based players – Emiliano Buendia, Emiliano Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero – for two international matches.

FIFA also fined the Brazilian and Argentine football associations 500,000 Swiss francs ($540,000) and 200,000 Swiss francs, respectively, for their failure to ensure “order and safety”.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said it would appeal the decision.

“The decision does not align with the facts,” the AFA said, asking FIFA to provide the legal grounds for the decision so it can prepare an appeal.

The Brazilian Football Confederation also criticised the decision and said it was deciding what action to take.

Both nations have already qualified unbeaten for Qatar, with Brazil top of the South American qualifying group, four points ahead of Argentina. Both teams have three games to play.

The last scheduled round of qualifying games takes place in late March.

($1 = 0.9265 Swiss francs)

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