BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The Argentine Football Association (AFA) will appeal what it says is FIFA’s decision to force Brazil and Argentina to replay their World Cup qualifier, which was cancelled after five minutes due to a breach of COVID-19 quarantine rules.
An official with the association said Argentina would take their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“We believe the decision to be unfair and we believe that Argentina did not cause the game to be cancelled,” Andres Urich, an advisor to the association, said on Argentine television. “We think we are in the right and we believe we have to take it to the Court.”
Earlier in the day, Argentine media published a letter from FIFA that purportedly ordered the two teams to play the cancelled game on Sept. 22.
The original match was called off in September 2021 when Brazilian health officials accused four Argentine players of misleading officials about their COVID-19 status.
The officials said the Argentines had breached rules stating travellers who had been in the UK, South Africa or India during the previous two weeks were forbidden from entering Brazil unless they were citizens or had permanent residency.
The players had misled border officials by declaring they had not been in a red list country during the 14 days before the game, the Brazilian officials said.
Argentine officials said they believed the same protocols used in the Copa America in Brazil in June last year were in place for the World Cup qualifiers to allow teams to travel across the continent. The South American Football Confederation confirmed that interpretation.
FIFA, however, suspended the four players for two matches and said they wanted the game played.
Argentina appealed that decision two months ago but said it had not received a resolution and called Friday’s move hasty.
“It’s hasty because it does not answer the first appeal and that is confirmed there is another instance, that is the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the AFA will appeal,” Urich said.
The result of the match between South America’s two footballing superpowers is immaterial to World Cup qualification as both teams have already secured their places in Qatar.
(Reporting by Ramiro Scandolo in Buenos Aires; Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Sam Holmes)