There were bizarre scenes in Sao Paulo as the glamorous World Cup qualifier got underway but was quickly halted by Brazilian officials who came onto the pitch.
Issues over four Argentina players not quarantining led to the dramatic scenes as the game was halted and then called off entirely.
Messi was seen questioning one of the officials, saying: ‘We’ve been here for three days, why are you doing this just now?’
Reuters then quoted the Paris Saint-Germain superstar as saying on television: ‘Why did they start the game and stop it after five minutes?
‘We’ve been here at the stadium for an hour, they could have told us.’
The Brazilian authorities say that Argentina’s four Premier League-based players – Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso, Emiliano Martinez and Emi Buendia – have breached quarantine rules and should have quarantined on arrival into Brazil.
They also claim that the Argentinians did not declare that the four men had been in the UK in the last 14 days, which would have meant they had to quarantine for 14 days, giving false information to avoid that.
The situation was known before the match, with Brazil’s health authority Anvisa releasing a statement, but why they chose until five minutes into the match to act is not at all clear.
Anvisa’s statement read: ‘Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil.’
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said after the match was abandoned: ‘It makes me very sad. I’m not looking for any culprits. Whether or not something happened, it was not the time to make that intervention.
‘It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players.
‘At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the game, the players from Brazil too.’
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