The bizarre incident from CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifying game between Argentina and Brazil last year hasn’t finished yet. The issue has resurfaced after FIFA announced a key decision over some of the Argentine players involved in the matter. However, the governing body’s verdict may have enraged Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard.
Brazil hosted Argentina last September at Sau Paulo stadium for their World Qualifier. But within 10 minutes of the kick-off, the match was interrupted abruptly by Brazilian health authorities. Moreover, the local police came along as well to detain a trio of Argentine players. They were Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.
Another Villa player, Emiliano Buendia was also being searched along with the other three players. It was explained that all of them had failed to comply with Brazil’s COVID restrictions regarding traveling. Brazil had prohibited the entry of people coming from the United Kingdom in the wake of rising COVID cases. However, Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso, and Buendia all arrived for national duty from England. Moreover, they skipped the quarantine period as well, which further prompted their detaining.
FIFA’s decision on the Argentine pair
The match was abandoned until further notice from FIFA. FIFA later issued punishments for both Martinez and Buendia, imposing 2-game bans on each. As a result, the ban meant all of them would miss Argentina’s next two world cup qualifiers. But Argentina did appeal against the decision, hoping to reduce the ban to one game.
While anticipating that the ban will eventually be cut-short, national team coach Lionel Scaloni named Martinez and Buendia in the squad for games against Venezuela and Ecuador this month. But things have not turned out to be as expected for Argentina. They lost their appeal, which meant the Aston Villa duo would miss the Ecuador game too. And the incident has infuriated Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard.
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard left fuming
After Scaloni called up Martinez and Buendia, they took the long trip of a 7300-mile journey from England to Argentina. However, their ban meant no national team football for the duo. With a huge disappointment, and 14,600 miles of wasteful traveling, Martinez and Buendia will now return to the UK. Apparently, this has immensely angered Gerrard, who feels his Aston Villa players have endured unnecessary exhaustion.
Aston Villa have crucial games coming up and Gerrard believes the two weeks break could have provided the pair with some rest. The journey which technically only ‘tired’ the Aston Villa players has irked Steven Gerrard. Moreover, Argentina are through to the World Cup, with a healthy 13-point lead over third-placed Ecuador. Gerrard believes that Villa’s keeper and the attacker could have benefited with recovery from fatigue in such a situation.
Aston Villa faces the in-form Wolverhampton Wanderers in their first game after the international break. However, Steven Gerrard is unsure about the availability of his Argentine pair for the game. Furthermore, Martinez and Buendia are reportedly yet to return to the UK. Both have chosen to stay on with the national team.
Follow us on Twitter for regular football updates.