Before Brazil-Argentina, Player Availability The Biggest Talking Point
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SAO PAULO — Brazilian health officials accused four Argentine footballers of breaking quarantine rules on Saturday and began an investigation that could lead to their exclusion from this weekend's World Cup qualifier between the two sides.
The Argentina squad flew into Brazil on Friday, the day after beating Venezuela 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Caracas.
The squad for Sunday's game at the Corinthians arena contains four players who play in England, Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero.
Anvisa said that with few exemptions non-Brazilians were prohibited from entering Brazil from Britain, Northern Ireland, South Africa or India.
Those given exemptions must advise authorities on arrival and spend 14 days in quarantine.
"The players in question, who arrived in Brazil on a flight from Caracas (Venezuela) to Guarulhos, declared they had not spent time in any of the four countries with restrictions on them in the last 14 days," Anvisa said in a statement.
In a separate statement the Sao Paulo State Health Secretariat said "an epidimiological and sanitary investigation has begun."
Brazilian news site UOL said if the four players could not provide documents showing they were exempt from quarantine they could be prevented from playing in Sunday's game.
Brazil leads the South American qualifying group for Qatar 2022, six points ahead of second-placed Argentina. The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup.
There has been anger in South America after several teams were deprived of key players for this month’s triple header of qualifiers.
Brazil are without nine key men for the Argentina game, and other South American sides have also lost players due to a decision by some European clubs not to let their players travel to the continent.
They would have to quarantine on return and the clubs do not want to lose their players for subsequent league games.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni criticised the decision earlier on Saturday and said it compromised the integrity of the World Cup.
“It is not equal and that’s very clear,” Scaloni said.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie. Editing by Toby Davis)