Premier League clubs could block players from being released for international duty in red list countries after the farce in Brazil, warns Christian Purslow.
The Aston Villa chief executive says Premier League teams will be ‘incredibly nervous’ to let players leave during the next set of World Cup qualifiers in October.
Two Villa players, Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez were involved in Argentina’s abandoned clash with Brazil on Sunday night, with Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso and Christian Romero joining them by entering the country on private jet.
Emiliano Martinez (left) and Emi Buendia (right) were the Aston Villa players involved for Argentina against Brazil on Sunday night, which was suspended in incredible fashion
Four English-based players – Martinez, Buendia and Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso (centre right) and Christian Romero (centre left) – all left the UK on a private flight despite the Premier League trying to stop teams from playing in red list countries
As reported exclusively by Sportsmail last week, they had falsified documents, failing to declare they had come from the UK, and should have been deported or at least in quarantine, in line with Brazilian Covid protocol.
Health officials then sensationally interrupted the match early on in an attempt to detain the Premier League stars, who they say broke Covid quarantine rules after entering the country illegally.
The match was eventually called off in scenes that had to be seen to be believed, and Purslow described it as a ‘mess’.
He told the BBC: ‘What happened in Brazil on Sunday was one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen watching football in all my life.
‘I don’t quite understand how it happened but it was very regrettable and very damaging to sport, when we had done everything we could to come to an amicable and sensible arrangement with the Argentine FA to enable our players to play in very important games.
‘We already have a significant congestion issue with World Cup qualifying games in South America so between now and October I really hope to see a sensible arrangement put in place because nobody wants to see a repeat of what happened.
Villa chief Christian Purslow described the situation as a mess and warned that clubs may not release players in future
‘That would make any reasonable club executive feel incredibly nervous about releasing players for overseas travel while we are in the midst of this crisis.’
All of the Premier League players involved on Sunday have now been released back to their clubs.
Brazil were already without 11 of those originally selected by boss Tite. Nine of them, from Premier League clubs, were not released to avoid the strict 10-day quarantine on their return.
And two players from Zenit St Petersburg were recalled by their club in the hope they would be able to enter the UK and play against Chelsea in the Champions League next week.
Brazil’s health agency Anvisa issued a statement claiming the four Argentina players had entered the country illegally when they arrived from Venezuela on Friday because they failed to declare they had been within the UK within the previous 14 days, thus breaking a portaria — an entry rule — created at the height of concern about the Delta variant.
According to the Portaria 655 anyone who has been in the UK, India or South Africa must quarantine for 14 days.
The World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was suspended in incredible scenes
Argentina’s Marcos Acuna and Nicolas Otamendi remonstrate with a Brazilian health official
The Argentina players were accused of having broken Brazil’s Covid quarantine rules
As the game was held up, Anvisa director Antonio Barra Torres went live on Globo TV in Brazil, to explain that the federal police had gone to the Argentina team hotel earlier in the day and ordered the four English-based players not to take part in the game but, instead, to enter quarantine.
They still played and the health officials then wandered onto the pitch to stop the game in one of the most bizarre and shocking moments in football history.
The fixture calendar has been condensed to fit four CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers into the existing schedule after no World Cup matches were played in South America in September 2020 and March 2021 due to travel restrictions.
FIFA has permitted a two-game international break in January during the Premier League winter break and added two days next month to the time frame when clubs are supposed to release players for duty.
Clubs in major European leagues face being without important South American stars for fixtures this weekend and the argument could rumble on for weeks if no solution is found.