You really have that much desire to talk about South America? So be it: but know that what happens over there is fantasy and nothing more. And sometimes not even the suspension of disbelief is enough: there is a Scala Mercalli del weirdo, in those parts, and it is likely that last night it finally imploded. But let’s proceed step by step. It’s Sunday 5th September.
We are in Sao Paulo, at the Corinthians Arena the match between Brazil and Argentina is scheduled. It is a qualifying race of the CONMEBOL group for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, of course. But it is also, and above all, many other small things: the first challenge, first of all, after the final of the Copa América in not even two months ago. And then the first time – after a long time – in which Neymar and Leo Messi find themselves as opponents despite being teammates. Messi, however,
Lionel Messi and this free kick before the match against Brazil. pic.twitter.com/Tq6RECNHPx— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) September 5, 2021
Just five minutes have passed when a crowd is formed on the sidelines strange. About twenty people in dark suits, and a handful of others in sand-colored fisherman’s vests, crowd the line of the lateral phallus, dialogue with the benches, approach the field. There is also someone who seems to have happened there by chance, in casual clothing. A few moments later, on the screens, this scene bounces:
The guys in suits are members of the federal police. The men in vests, on the other hand, as if something positive can be expected from a man in a vest, are agents of Anvisa, the national health surveillance agency. In the afternoon, Anvisa issued a press release that was surreal, distrusting four Albiceleste players (Emiliano Martínez, Giovanni Lo Celso, Emiliano Buendía and Cristian Romero) from taking the field. Indeed: to be more precise, Anvisa has invited the local authorities of the entire State of Sao Paulo to collaborate to put immediately quarantined the four players, guilty of having provided false information when completing the entry form to Brazil.
the false information would be the omission of the fact that in the last fourteen days the four players – who after all play in the Premier League – had stayed in the United Kingdom. In Brazil there is a ministerial order, dated 23 June, which prohibits British, Indian and South African citizens from entering the country who have not undergone preventive quarantine. A necessary measure to avoid the explosion of the rate of infected people, since to date Brazil is the second most affected state by COVID, with more than 580 thousand victims already buried.
The Anvisa press release, then, walking dangerously on the edge of the paroxysm, had ordered the CBF, the Brazilian Football Federation, to take charge of the preventive measures.
Emiliano Martínez, Giovanni Lo Celso, Emiliano Buendía and Cristian Romero immortalized here on board the charter that would take them to the Kingdom of Weird, in the most famous of the shots preceding the catastrophe.
Let’s face it: South American football is a circus that feeds on itself, reproducing itself ad libitum. The oddities, immersed in that cosmic soup that is CONMEBOL, and everything that simply sticks to him happening, they seem to be competing to outdo each other. The scene of the Ecuadorian Enner Valencia who leaves the pitch pretending to be injured because better in an ambulance than in a guards wheel (who were waiting for him to carry out the accusations of not having paid alimony to his daughter) he comes of course phagocytes of gran quilombo of the End of the century, which in turn is obviously overtaken on the right since yesterday evening. Who had such a surreal history that if a screenwriter had written it they would have laughed at him for weeks, trashing his ideas as unlikely.
Anvisa, apparently, in a country where a parliamentary investigation against President Bolsonaro is open because of his preventive policy against COVID, this story of mandatory quarantine takes it very seriously. A few hours before the start of the match, together with the Federal Police, she went to the hotel where the Albiceleste was staying to first put the four players in custody and then immediately repatriate the four players in question. But they had already got on the bus that would take them to the stadium. Scaloni, however, more in good faith than with a provocative spirit (because Scaloni seems to have everything except a provocative factor) had given three of them as holders.
In all this mess it seems that Leo Messi has the most naïve ideas of all: “We have been here for three days – he says to a member of Anvisa – why didn’t you come earlier?”.
At this point, sensing the fool, the Brazilian government opened negotiations with the CBF and CONMEBOL, trying to find a solution to the matter together. The game, of course, had millions of eyes on it, either because of the presence of the two number tens, or because of the meaning of revenge. Everyone agreed on one point: play the game, and then proceed with the immediate repatriation of the four players. Everyone, in reality, is not the correct word: because Anvisa did not like this palliative at all.
Anyone who understands a minimum of South American literature will have already guessed that to complete the mechanisms of a perfect magical realism there is a need for the introduction of a disturbing, familiar and at the same time alienating element. For us, in this story, it will be represented by the inextricable traffic of Sao Paulo.
The police officers, in charge of reaching the representatives of AFA, CONMEBOL and CBF at the stadium, remain bottled up in the tin chaos of the Paulista capital. They manage to arrive at the stadium half an hour before the game starts, but they still have time to agree, quickly, that the game will be played. This is not the case for Anvisa’s agents, however, who arrive at the stadium only a few moments before the teams take the field for the anthems.
It is at that moment that they opt for a full-blown raid, with the game already in progress, causing it to be suspended.
“And who are we playing against now?” Neymar asks. “Alone?”. Messi is more social democratic: “The world is watching us.”
The reaction of the players, probably the result of the displacement,
. Otamendi attacks one of Anvisa’s officers who invaded the camp (). Other Albiceleste players also protest, some vehemently, until they understand that the only thing to do is to gain the locker room. They will remain there for three hours, barricading themselves, refusing to let in the members of Anvisa, and the policemen, before leaving the stadium thanks to an escorted bus made available by the Sao Paulo transport authority.
Oficial da Anvisa 🆚 Otamendi e Acuña é o momento do dia.pic.twitter.com/yDEYRF79mt— Tiro de Canto (@TiroDiCanto) September 6, 2021
The CFB, in a statement, announced that it was “absolutely surprised by the actions of Anvisa”. According to its interim president Ednaldo Rodrigues, it was a “shameful episode, because the match between Brazil and Argentina is at the center of the attention of the whole world”. And luckily, we would have to add, because otherwise batons and tear gas would probably have sprung up as well.
For its part, Anvisa, through the director Antonio Barra Torres, explained how this situation came about because every recommendation was systematically ignored. It goes without saying that the truth oscillates between the unspoken and the unspoken, between what we wanted to understand and what we didn’t. The fact remains that the treatment does not seem to have followed the criterion of the same weight, same measure at all: as far as Barra Torres is concerned
that “if the Brazilians who play in Great Britain had been called up, they too would have had to do the quarantine”, we know that there are numerous exceptions: after all, Willian too,
"Si hubieran venido los brasileños que juegan en Gran Bretaña también debían hacer cuarentena", Antonio Barra Torres, director de ANVISA, en ESPN— VarskySports (@VarskySports) September 5, 2021
, went from England to train with Corinthians, with no quarantine in between.
Willian hace cinco días en el aeropuerto de Londres // Willian dos días después entrenándose con el Corinthians. pic.twitter.com/2My5ZdHUPr— Juli Micheles (@JuliMicheles) September 5, 2021
The icing on this absurd and unlikely cake: Brazil, left alone on the pitch, decided – in order not to waste the evening, not to leave the fans with the memory of a sloppy parenthesis – to organize a family match, holders against reserves: Weverton , third goalkeeper, also scored a very enjoyable goal.
The Argentine team, as mentioned, left the field and the stadium quietly. It is all too obvious that there are those who suspected that it could be a revenge, by the Brazilians, for the final of Copa América. But in the end: whose profits?
It is much more plausible, rather, that on the evening of Sunday 5 September 2021 one of the concretizations of the most adamant golden rule of South American football was staged, that is, the one in which if there is an explanation to a quirky, apparently incomprehensible fact, according to every dictate. of inconceivable common sense, here, nine times out of ten must be sought in the folds of the word incompetence, and in the raven highlights of his ugliest daughter’s hair, theimprovisation.