Argentine club face fines after leaving COVID-19 isolation in Brazil

(Reuters) - Brazilian officials filed a complaint against all 36 members of the Independiente squad on Wednesday after the Argentines left hotel isolation to play a Copa Sudamericana match against Bahia, the Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said.

Independiente flew into Salvador early on Tuesday but 11 members of the squad tested positive for COVID-19.

The 11 flew home and the other members of the delegation were told to remain in isolation and leave the country within three days.

However, Anvisa said the Argentine team ignored the order and went to the Pituacu stadium in Salvador to play Tuesday’s match in the group stages of the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League. The match ended 2-2.

Anvisa said when it learned the game was going ahead it had asked federal police to meet its officials at the ground.

But when the police failed to appear Anvisa officials went to the airport to intercept the Independiente players before they flew home to Buenos Aires and they were served with an official complaint.

"They are subject to punishments such as fines that start at 2000 reais," Anvisa said in a statement. "They were all notified of the period of 15 days during which they can present their defence, if they so wish."

The players could also face criminal charges.

Independiente made no comment on the charges but were upset at their treatment by Brazilian authorities.

"It's unbelievable what happened, Independiente did everything that was asked of us," defender Juan Manuel Insaurralde said. "We can't find any explanation for the mistreatment we received in Brazil."

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Argentina, as a second wave of the virus surges across the country.

Brazil has also suffered massively in 2021, with more than 400,000 people dying from the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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