Tottenham set to fine duo for joining up with Argentina squad amid Covid chaos

Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso did not have permission from Spurs to head off on international duty

By Press Association Published: 6 September 2021 - 4.54pm

Argentina duo Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso can expect to be fined by Tottenham when they eventually return from international duty, the PA news agency understands.

FIFA’s disciplinary department is currently analysing reports from the abandoned World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina in Sao Paulo on Sunday before deciding what action will be taken against the national associations.

The match was called off amid extraordinary scenes as officials, believed to be from Brazil’s health authority, stormed on to the pitch shortly after kick-off over an alleged coronavirus breach by the visitors’ England-based players.

Cristian Romero on a plane with his Argentina team-mates
Cristian Romero had shared an image of the Argentina players on a plane (Instagram/cutiromero2)

According to ANVISA, the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency, Argentina’s four Premier League players – Romero and Lo Celso and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia – are alleged to have declared false information on official forms to the country’s authorities and in doing so broken quarantine rules.

While world governing body FIFA digests the reports of both the referee and and match delegate and considers its next steps in the disciplinary process, the row over players’ selection for international matches in red-list countries rumbles on.

Top-flight and EFL clubs had announced they would not permit players to travel to countries on the UK Government’s proscribed Covid-19 list, prompting FIFA president Gianni Infantino to write to Prime Minster Boris Johnson to request exemptions, which were not forthcoming.

It had previously been agreed with Villa that Martinez and Buendia would not be involved for Argentina’s next match against against Bolivia, so as to minimise their period of unavailability after arriving back in the UK and needing to quarantine.

Argentina later confirmed Martinez and Buendia had been authorised to now return to their club. While they will not feature against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, they should be clear to play again for the visit of Everton on September 18.

However, it is understood Tottenham are currently unsure when Romero and Lo Celso are due back, the pair not having been given permission to join up with Argentina, and they will be hit with fines when they eventually return to club duties.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi walks off the field
Lionel Messi and his Argentina players walked off the field after the match was halted(Andre Penner/AP)

Romero, a summer signing from Atalanta, and Lo Celso started Sunday night’s match, along with Villa goalkeeper Martinez, but Buendia was not in the matchday 23.

ANVISA said it had been confirmed, following passport checks, that the four players “failed to comply with the rule for the entry of travellers on Brazilian soil” after declaring they had not passed through the UK in the last 14 days, which would have necessitated quarantining on arrival.

The situation was considered “a serious health risk”, with the local health authorities advised “to determine the immediate quarantine of players, who are prevented from participating in any activity and must be prevented from remaining in Brazilian territory”.

The Argentina team responded to the entrance of the officials and the police by walking off the pitch and down the tunnel.

FIFA will now take a view on the matter.

A statement read: “FIFA regrets the scenes preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022 which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world.

“The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course.”

Argentina had arrived in Brazil from Venezuela following their victory there on Friday and boss Lionel Scaloni said “at no time” were his squad told they could not play the match.

Following the suspension of the game, the Argentina national team posted a picture to Twitter of squad members on a plane on Sunday captioned: “We’re going home!”

Having both played seven qualifying matches, Brazil remain top of the CONMEBOL standings, six points ahead of Argentina, with Ecuador three points back but after eight fixtures.

Both countries are set to be in action again on Thursday night local time when Argentina host Bolivia and Brazil take on Peru.

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