Aston Villa star opens up on why he and Spurs duo reported for Argentina duty

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Giovani Lo Celso
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has revealed that he, along with Giovani Lo Celso, Cristiano Romero and Emiliano Buendia, are ready to accept the consequences of travelling to South America despite not being permitted to do so by the Premier League.

The Premier League made it clear that clubs do not have to release players who are travelling to ‘red list’ countries but the four players decided to ignore the ruling and join up with the Argentina squad for their World Cup qualifiers.

The situation took a farcical turn on Sunday when Brazilian health authorities walked onto the pitch to suspend the match between Brazil and Argentina due to the four Premier League players’ involvement.

They claimed that the Spurs and the Villa stars had concealed the fact that they were in the UK over the last 14 days, which would necessitate a quarantine period on entering Brazil.

Argentina confirmed earlier this evening that Lo Celso and Romero will not take part against Bolivia on Thursday and have been released from the squad.

Martinez has now spoken about the events that unfolded in Sao Paulo on Sunday, blaming the Brazilian authorities for the mess.

The Villa goalkeeper told Mundo Albiceleste: “We don’t understand what happened the other day. It’s something that has never been seen in football.

“It’s a shame for South American football. A match that big, at an international level that is suspended for those things, it’ll never be understood.

“We prepared for three days in Brazil to prepare for the match to start and then they cancel it. It’s a bitter feeling. We had everything to win and for political reasons, it was suspended and we had to go back.

“We stayed 30 minutes in the locker room to see if we would go out. After that, they told us that we had to leave.

“And after that came the despair of whether we would stay there with the boys from England for 14 days. It was all uncertain. Chiqui (Tapia) helped, he backed us. I thank him and the boys.

“I did not understand Brazil’s regulations. The entire world saw what happened. It was a match to enjoy.

“The four of us from England decided to leave (to join Argentina) for the love of the shirt. As much as those from the Premier League did not want to come, we still decided to travel.

“After winning Copa America, everyone wanted to be in the group. It’s something beautiful. We assume the consequences.

“On a personal level, I needed to play these two matches to give as much as I can. It’s a shame, hopefully, we win on Thursday.”

Spurs Web Opinion

The players are the last ones who can be blamed for this as one cannot expect them to reject the chance to represent their country in a World Cup qualifier. However, CONMEBOL and FIFA certainly have a lot to answer for.

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