Brazilian federal police have opened an inquiry to investigate the four Argentina players whose presence at Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Brazil caused the match to be abandoned.
Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martínez and Emi Buendía and Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso may face charges of misrepresentation if it is established that they submitted false information to Brazilian authorities about the places they had been to before entering the country.
“We can confirm an investigation has begun into the possible crime of supplying false information,” a police spokesperson said. “Yesterday, the players were notified they must leave the country, which is the regular procedure, and statements from them were taken.”
Anvisa, Brazil’s health surveillance agency, has said in a statement that the players “provided false information and failed to comply” with the Brazilian norm in which foreign travellers who have passed through the UK, South Africa and India in the previous 14 days are prevented from entering the country. According to the Brazilian resolution, the players had to stay in quarantine.
Argentina’s manager, Lionel Scaloni, has said his team were never told the game could not be played, but Anvisa said it held a meeting with Argentina’s coaching staff and the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) on Saturday.
The agency added that it tried to notify the players but that they refused to sign the document handed over by authorities, prompting it to send a report to police.
Martínez, Romero and Lo Celso were on the pitch in São Paulo on Sunday when federal police and Anvisa officials came on to halt play after seven minutes, with Buendía in the stands. The match did not restart and the president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, has described the events as “crazy”.
Lo Celso and Romero are in hot water with Tottenham after going against the club’s wishes to play in the match and are likely to be disciplined. Villa came to an arrangement with Martínez and Buendía that allowed them to travel.
It is understood Martínez and Buendía were due to fly to Croatia on Monday to train in the green-listed country before returning to their clubs, thereby avoiding 10 days of confinement to a quarantine hotel in the UK.