The World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was a fiasco that ended with the two teams playing to a 1-1 draw, but it wasn’t all bad news for fans of the game.
The Brazil world cup wins is the result of a fiasco that happened during the Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier match. France looked flat and Liverpool’s contract mess has been ongoing for a while now.
During the international break, there is no Premier League or LaLiga, but World Cup qualification has captivated fans across the world, with plenty of talking points centered on Europe’s best teams (England, France, and Italy) and high drama in South America between two ancient rivals, Brazil and Argentina.
– LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, and more on ESPN+ – Watch ESPN FC every day on ESPN+ (U.S. only) – If you don’t have ESPN, you’re out of luck. Get immediate access
In a special international-break edition of his thoughts, Gab Marcotti responds to the greatest events in the world of football.
Jump to: Brazil-Argentina squabble | England’s humiliation | France’s woes? | Italy’s unbeaten streak | Liverpool at a crossroads
There is enough of blame to go around for the turmoil in Brazil and Argentina.
Your initial response is fury when you see a disaster like the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina in Sao Paulo on Sunday night, which was abandoned after police and health officials walked onto the field at the five-minute mark.
Why can’t they do it right this time? Why is it that common sense isn’t prevailing? Don’t football fans, players, and supporters throughout the world, not just in Brazil and Argentina, deserve better?
Here are some statistics and background information. It’s a complex tale, and you’re inclined to do two things, both of which would be errors.
One option is to unravel the thread by going back in time and asking macro-questions like: Why are we playing international qualifiers amid a worldwide pandemic? Why are we being forced to play three games in eight days? Why couldn’t the Copa America spot from last summer be utilized for qualifiers?
They’re good questions to ask, but going “macro” means losing sight of the “micro,” and it’s crucial not to allow previous mistakes color your judgment of what occurred right now. Because that’s how you distribute blame and choose the most equitable path ahead. What is the significance of being fair? Because unless you are seen as being as fair as possible, you will lose credibility. And at a time when so many people have lost trust in institutions, credibility is crucial (not just in sports, either).
The second option is to throw your hands in the air and declare, “They’re all terrible!” Similar to what your teacher would have done if you had gotten into a playground brawl in elementary school.
“He was the one who began it!”
Gabriele Marcotti, a senior writer for ESPN FC, has compiled all of the latest news and reactions.
“No, he’s the one who began it!”
“So, I’m going to put a stop to it! You’re both going to have to go to detention!”
(This did, in fact, happen to me.) Several times.)
When you take the time to dig through the facts, you’ll find that there’s enough of blame to go around when fresh information emerges. From the Argentine Football Association to Anvisa (Brazil’s national health monitoring agency), the South American Football Confederation to the Brazilian Football Association, and the Brazilian government to the Brazilian federal police
What’s more, guess what? As my colleague Gustavo Hofman, who was there at every stage, informed us on Monday’s Gab + Juls Show, they’re not all equally to blame.
On Sunday night, Brazil and Argentina attempted to play until government health authorities interfered. It’s a disaster that shouldn’t have happened. Getty Images/Gustavo Pagano
On Saturday, Hofman was at Argentina’s team hotel when Anvisa officials arrived to inform the Argentine FA that four players — Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso of Tottenham Hotspur — had provided false information on their COVID-19 declaration when they entered the country. They’d failed to disclose that they’d spent the previous 14 days in the United Kingdom, which was crucial because, under a Brazilian law that went into effect on July 21, anyone who has traveled to highly infectious countries such as the United Kingdom, India, or South Africa must quarantine for 10 days. (Unless they have a Brazilian passport.) Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps because the virus looks for passports before infecting.) And, since it was one of those “under penalty of law” papers, they had broken the law.
According to Hofman, Anvisa officials met with officials from CONMEBOL, the Argentine Football Association, and the Brazilian Football Association later on Saturday. It lasted four hours, and at the conclusion, they had struck an agreement: the four players would remain at the team hotel and not play the next night. The game would go on as planned, according to CONMEBOL and the two FAs.
Anvisa had a different opinion, as they released a statement the following day, three hours before start, stating that the four players will be deported immediately for making a fraudulent claim. You know what happened next: they arrived at the stadium and the game was called off after much back and forth.
We don’t know if Anvisa and the other parties struck an agreement on Saturday; it seems that one of the two sides isn’t speaking the truth. CONMEBOL would be stupid not to get it in writing if an agreement was struck.
So, in no particular order, these are the people to blame. In interfering in this manner, Anvisa behaved like the worst sort of stubborn bureaucrats. It’s hard to imagine they needed to stop the game when they’re the government and have the federal police on their side. They could have published their statement sooner, been to the stadium sooner, or ordered stadium police to shut off access to the field until they arrived.
Gab Marcotti explains what occurs when the match between Brazil and Argentina is called off due to health concerns raised by three Argentina players.
The Argentine Football Association is also to blame. Their defense is based on the fact that they followed the procedures established for the Copa America, the last time they visited Brazil: player bubbles, daily testing, and so on. And that CONMEBOL and Mercosur have agreed to and supported such protocols. Fine. However, once you’ve been informed that the legislation has changed and that you shouldn’t play those four players (and you’ve probably agreed not to), that’s it. Follow the orders of the government and the armed police.
If Argentina was given one more opportunity at the stadium, as reported, to leave the four players in the dressing room and play the rest of the team, and they still refused, then that’s on them.
Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, and others to discuss the most recent news and debate the most important stories. ESPN+ has a live stream available (U.S. only).
What about CONMEBOL? This is, after all, their duty. You’re hosting a qualifying tournament, you’re aware that those four players will be traveling, you’re aware of the law (or should be aware of it), and you should be running point on mediation. While it may not be technically speaking part of your job to ensure that your member FAs are aware of and follow the regulations, it is in your best interests that they do so in order to prevent embarrassing situations like Sunday night.
The Brazilian Football Association isn’t exempt either. According to FIFA regulations, the host nation is responsible for ensuring that the visiting country is aware of all entrance criteria. Yes, they informed them; but, they were also aware (or should have been aware) that the legislation had changed. They might have been more aggressive in their lobbying of the Argentines as well as their own administration.
Last but not least, there’s the government. Anvisa is a government agency that is self-contained. You don’t want intervention, but you also don’t want international incidents or humiliation on a worldwide scale. They could have done more as well.
So, sure, they’re not all as terrible as each other, but they’re all accountable to varying degrees. What happens next is now up to FIFA, and you can bet CONMEBOL is more than pleased to hand over the reins to them.
The most equitable thing to do is repeat the game, but given how busy the schedule is, it’s difficult to see how you could do it unless you put it towards the conclusion of the qualifying tournament, when both teams would have theoretically qualified, like some kind of pointless kick-about. Unless, of course, you ask for permission to play it outside of international match days and perhaps just with South American players, which has its own set of issues. Yes, the European stars would be absent, but it would be preferable than not participating at all.
Fans who shouldn’t have been there insulted England players.
Both Nedum Onuoha and Gab Marcootti express their admiration for England’s performance after they beat Hungary 4-0.
With 4-0 victories against Hungary away and Andorra at home, England made it five wins out of five in qualifying Group I. However, in a sad repeat of what occurred at the Puskas Arena during the Euros when England played France, racial abuse was aimed towards England players of color during the former game. For what occurred during the Euros, Hungary was given a three-game stadium ban (with one game suspended)…
…so why were supporters there to scream at the players?
Because the Euros are a UEFA tournament, and UEFA imposed the restriction. Because World Cup qualification is a FIFA event, UEFA restrictions do not apply. It’s similar to how a Premier League player who receives a three-match suspension is still eligible to play in the Champions League.
As far as explanations go, this one falls short, and it’s a regulation that needs to be altered right now. Crowds insulting players based on their race is not the same as depriving a goal-scoring chance outside the penalty box, and it should not be regarded as such. The penalty should be severe and quick. Yes, there is precedent: if you are suspended for doping or match-fixing, your suspension will apply to all events and contests.
It’s also not simply a matter of optics. There’s also the reality that effective justice (and punishment) requires speed. The abusers were always more inclined to racially abuse in this game while the ban was still fresh in their thoughts.
This is not a contentious topic. This is a common-sense topic on which FIFA and UEFA should be able to quickly reach an agreement.
France is in a bad way. Is it reasonable to be concerned?
Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine, the world champions have now gone five games without a victory. That’s an impressive run for a squad of this caliber, but maybe it’s not completely unexpected.
Regular readers know that, although I believe France coach Didier Deschamps does a lot of things well, one of them is establishing patterns of play and a system that maximizes the talents at his disposal. France won the World Cup by playing four central defenders across the back, attacking on the counter-attack, and waiting for their superstars to make an impact. The issue with that strategy is that if you’re down a goal, you have to do something in the opposing half, and your superstars aren’t always going to produce something out of nothing.
This was particularly apparent against Ukraine, as many superstars were absent: Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, and N’Golo Kante did not start. During a mess of a first half, they were down a goal and had to huff and puff to escape loss. They were once again less than the sum of their parts.
I don’t believe you should be too concerned — until they lose against Finland at home on Tuesday night — but it does highlight the fact that this squad has the potential to be so much more.
Italy loses points, but sets a new record.
Italy may not seem to be in excellent shape at the moment, but there is no need to be concerned. AFP/FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images
After Italy’s 0-0 draw with Switzerland on Sunday, Roberto Mancini said his side controlled and had opportunities but couldn’t convert them. That’s somewhat accurate — Jorginho missed a penalty, and Yann Sommer made world-class saves to deny Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne — but there’s more to it than that. (And no, it’s not entirely Ciro Immobile’s fault, but his center-forward play for Italy is a poor copy of what he does for Lazio once again.)
Italy just looked less sharp in the scoreless draw — much worse than they did in the last tie, against Bulgaria — and that would have been the case even if any of their huge chances had gone in. Despite the accolades they received for winning the Euros, this is not a team with a lot of individual skill (although there is some). If they’re going to succeed, everything has to click just perfectly.
They still top the group by four points, but Switzerland has two games in hand. If Switzerland wins both, the head-to-head in Rome on November 12 becomes a must-win game for the Azzurri, which isn’t ideal.
Despite this, they extended their undefeated run to 36 international matches, breaking the previous record of Spain and Brazil. Naturally, a victory would have been preferable, but it’s still an accomplishment in today’s game — and if you’re superstitious, you’ll notice that the other two went on to win World Cups.
Liverpool is on the verge of a contract cliff.
The next six months will be crucial for Liverpool, and they will serve as a good example of how important it is to have a good age mix in your team.
They have some major choices to make over their offensive three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino, after negotiating contract extensions with Virgil Van Dijk (through 2025, when he will be 34) and Jordan Henderson (also through 2025, when he will be 35). They’re all 29, and their contracts are coming to an end in the next two years. In most cases, the guideline is that you should try to extend a player’s contract before he reaches the last two years of his contract or, if that isn’t possible, locate him a new club.
Obviously, Liverpool’s circumstances over the last two years have been anything but typical (they are hampered in other ways, as this thread by the great Swiss Ramble shows), but that doesn’t make their choices any easier.
There’s only so much money in the world. Extending your commitment to a large number of high-paid athletes beyond their 31st birthday is hazardous. They’re more harder to sell (since they’re older and earn more money), and as a player reaches his 30s, his performance tends to deteriorate. In addition, it implies less resources are available to improve other areas.
This will be one of the final major choices made by Michael Edwards, the club’s highly regarded sports director and, together with Jurgen Klopp, the team’s architect, before he departs at the conclusion of the season. It may not make the front pages, but Liverpool must do it right.
- fifa world cup winners
- liverpool football club