Berlin: Global soccer superstar Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentina national team were forced to abandon a World Cup Qualifier against Brazil on Sunday after Brazilian health officials said three Argentine players had broken quarantine rules.
In an incredible turn of events, officials from Brazil's health regulator Anvisa walked onto the pitch at the Sao Paolo Neo Quimica Arena just minutes after kick off and suspended the game.
Players from both national teams argued for some time with health officials on the side of the pitch before marching back down the tunnel to their changing rooms.
"Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?" Messi said in a TV interview. "We've been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us."
Under COVID-19 rules, anyone who has been in the UK 14 days before entering Brazil must quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
Four Argentine players who compete weekly in the English Premier League — Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, who ply their trade at Aston Villa, and Tottenham duo Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero — all traveled to Brazil, three of whom started Sunday's match.
Brazil's health regulator learned that the details they had been given were "false" which they said represented "a serious health risk" and could take further action.
Brazil were without nine key players for the match because of quarantine rules, with many other international sides have suffered similar fates due to travel regulations around the globe.