The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) insisted it warned Argentina's Premier League-based quartet about the need to quarantine after Sunday's blockbuster CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier was sensationally abandoned.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

Brazil had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were all starters for Lionel Scaloni's Copa America champions Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

As FIFA investigates, CBF released a statement on Monday, providing further information following a meeting that took place at the Hotel Marriot on Saturday amid criticism from Argentina, denying it interfered.

"CBF sent representation to said meeting as a listener, at the request of the Health Surveillance of the State of Sao Paulo, where representatives of the aforementioned agency, the Ministry of Health, ANVISA, CONMEBOL and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) were gathered.

"The CBF was represented by Dr. Roberto Nishimura, operational coordinator of the special medical committee, and there was no interference on his part in relation to administrative or sanitary aspects. This meeting ended around 18:00.

"As it understands that this is not a matter of its attribution, at no time was there any manifestation by the CBF representative to the authorities regarding the health issue of the four Argentine athletes, either in the sense of releasing or vetoing their participation in the game.

"At this meeting, the representatives of the Argentine national team were informed that there was an irregularity in the entry of players, that they should be quarantined and received guidance from the authorities to request, with the competent bodies, special authorisation for the players to have their situation regularised. It was a technical discussion between ANVISA, the Ministry of Health and the Argentine Association.

"After the meeting, when the athletes' presence was requested, the Health Surveillance agents were informed that the players had left for training, not complying with the instructions given during the meeting. The agency reported the non-compliance to the National Health Surveillance Agency and the Ministry of Health, responsible for analysing the request for exceptionality forwarded by CONMEBOL on behalf of the AFA.

"All these steps are described in detail by ANVISA in an official note published on Sunday, 5, and updated this Monday, 6, as complete at the end of this.

"On Sunday, 5th, this request had an official negative response, by the Ministry of Health to CONMEBOL, and the Argentine national team was notified, directly at Neo Quimica Arena, with enough time to adopt the necessary procedures.

"As for the information that circulated about the presence of CBF's Director of Competitions, Manoel Flores, at the Argentine delegation's hotel, CBF informs that he was in fact at the hotel on Saturday, around 3:00 pm, solely to talk about operational details of the game with the atache [member of the team organising the match] who accompanied the Argentine national team, remaining in place for about 15 minutes and not having dealt with any matter related to the Argentine players. Visiting the visiting delegation's hotel is a regular routine in every gaming operation.

"The CBF further clarifies that it strictly fulfilled its institutional role as the game's host entity, informing everyone involved in the game about the health laws in force in the country in a letter sent, through the General Secretariat of the entity, on July 5th, and later resubmitted on 11 August and 2 September.

"CBF reiterates that it defends the implementation of the most rigorous health protocols and complies with them in their entirety, both in the national territory and in countries where the Brazilian team acts as a visitor.

"The CBF also emphasises that at no time, through the interim President, Ednaldo Rodrigues, or its directors, interfered in any point related to the sanitary protocol established by the Brazilian authorities for the entry of people into the country. The role of the CBF was always in an attempt to promote understanding between the entities involved so that the sanitary protocols could be fulfilled satisfactorily and the game could be played."

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez believes his country's World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended due to "political reasons".

Martinez was one of three Premier League players who started Sunday's match between the South American heavyweights at the Neo Quimica Arena.

However, the match was stopped shortly after kick-off when Brazilian health officials came onto the pitch to apprehend Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine players from the Premier League for their September games, but none of the group travelled.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

Argentina's players walked off the pitch and did not return, with the game called off by the referee. On Monday, FIFA opened an investigation into the matter.

Martinez is now set to return to the UK along with his Aston Villa team-mate Emiliano Buendia, who was not involved on Sunday, although they will travel via Croatia due to quarantine restrictions.

The former Arsenal keeper spoke to reporters at Ezeiza International Airport and did not hold back in his criticism of the decision.

"We all know what happened. We prepare for three days in Brazil to play the game and having it cancelled after five minutes is a bitter feeling," he said.

"We gave everything to win it and for political reasons, I don't know what happened, it was cancelled and we had to go back.

"There were rumours about those from the Premier League, who could not play the game, but they could have warned us when we arrived in Brazil, and we did not make enough trouble to cancel the game. Simple. They could have warned us before.

"It's a shame because we were going to win. We were confident, the team was doing well. We did not understand anything. We stayed for half an hour to see if we would go out to play or warm up again, and after 30 or 40 minutes, they told us we had to go."

Martinez also revealed there was a possibility he, along with the other Premier League players, would have had to remain in Brazil and in isolation for two weeks if not for the Argentine Football Association's intervention.

"There was the possibility that they would leave the four boys from England there for 14 days," Martinez said. "But Chiqui [Tapia, president of the AFA] helped us, backed us all and said 'we're all going' and we all left.

"Aston Villa did not understand the regulations of Brazil and why it happened. It is not something the world expected to see. It was something to enjoy and not to make a fool of yourself.

"The four of us decided to come for the love of the shirt; even though all of the Premier League [clubs] did not want us to come, we decided to come anyway.

"After winning the Copa America, the whole team wants to be with the group, not just give the national team a victory. It is something beautiful that we have and we accept the consequences."

FIFA has opened investigations into the suspended World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina.

The fixture was halted on Sunday after an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up.

Brazi had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovanni Lo Celso were all starters for Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

While a decision is yet to be made on the outcome, football's world governing body provided an update on Monday.

"FIFA regrets the scene preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world," a statement said.

"The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course."

Lionel Scaloni said he is upset Argentina's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended amid farcical scenes on Sunday after Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch.

The high-profile contest at the Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo, which was set to see the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi face off in a repeat of July's Copa America final, was halted just minutes after kick-off.

Local authorities entered the field in an attempt to remove four Argentina players that had apparently breached coronavirus regulations.

Those four players in question – Premier League quartet Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia – all ply their trade in England.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, meaning restricted entry to the nation for those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures on the road to Qatar 2022, but none of the group travelled to their native country.

Despite having arrived in the country three days ago, ANVISA – Brazil's heath authority – demanded the Argentine quartet immediately quarantine.

But Argentina head coach Scaloni insisted his the Copa America champions were never informed the match was at risk of not being played.

"At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the game, the players from Brazil too," he told reporters.

"It makes me very sad. I'm not looking for any culprits. Whether or not something happened, it was not the time to make that intervention.

"It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina superstar Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents, including Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said: "Here you can't talk about any lie because there is a health legislation under which all South American tournaments are played.

"The health authorities of each country approved a protocol that we have been complying with to the maximum.

"What was experienced today is regrettable for football, it is a very bad image. 

"Four people came in to interrupt the match to make a notification and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the locker room."

The AFA also released a statement, which read: "The Argentine Football Association expresses its deep discomfort at the suspension of the meeting between the Argentine national team and the Brazilian national team in Sao Paulo. 

"Like the CBF, the AFA is surprised by the actions of ANVISA once the game has started. It should be noted that the Albiceleste delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by CONMEBOL for the normal development of the qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022. 

"Following the report from the CONMEBOL officials and the match referee, the information will be forwarded to the competent FIFA body in accordance with current regulations. Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition."

Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues joined his opposite number in criticising the health officials for the timing of their intervention.

"I feel sorry for all the sports fans who wanted to watch the game on television," he told Brazil's Sportv.

"With all due respect to ANVISA, they could have resolved this earlier and not waited for the game to start."

Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Sao Paulo was halted on Sunday after the visiting side named three Premier League players in their starting XI, an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations.

The Selecao had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures, but none of the group travelled to Brazil.

Argentina were able to include four Premier League stars, however, in Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia.

Martinez and Lo Celso both played in the side's 3-1 win against Venezuela earlier this week, but issues arose as they headed to Brazil.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso and Buendia – the first three were involved against Brazil – all fall under that category.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina's Lionel Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents.

There were few immediate updates from official sources, with both Brazil and Argentina reporting only that the game had been halted. The visiting side posted a further message to say it had been "suspended".

Brazil head coach Tite has argued that European clubs preventing South American players from being released for international duty is creating inequality ahead of next year's World Cup.

Tite will be without numerous key players for Sunday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match against Argentina after several English and Spanish clubs refused to release players travelling to red list countries.

Countries on that list for travel to and from the UK require arrivals to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status.

LaLiga followed suit on the Premier League clubs, refusing to release 25 players from 13 different clubs for matches to be played in South America.

Among the Brazilian contingent were captain Thiago Silva, goalkeeper Alisson, Fred, Renan Lodi, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino.

“I feel that there must be equality for all teams and I trust the good sense of the associations," Tite said at Saturday's pre-game news conference.

"That hurts the preparation of Brazil and all the South American football teams that will be left without the same preparation for the World Cup, giving an advantage to the European teams."

Premier League pair Aston Villa and Tottenham permitted Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristiano Romero to link up with Argentina under the belief they would return after the Brazil game.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claimed that he knew nothing about any agreement with Villa or Tottenham and intended to retain the trio for their third match against Bolivia.

Tite also hinted that Marseille midfielder Gerson would likely get a starting chance against Argentina along with Flamengo midfielder Everton Ribeiro.

Brazil remain top in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with a perfect record with seven wins from seven games, while Argentina are unbeaten in second with 15 points.

Lionel Messi looks likely to be fully fit to face Brazil despite Luis Martinez's horror tackle on the Argentina captain, head coach Lionel Scaloni said.

Venezuela's Martinez was sent off for a crude lunge on the Paris Saint-Germain star in the Albiceleste's 3-1 World Cup qualifying win this week as Scaloni's men maintained their unbeaten streak.

There were concerns Messi would be a doubt for the clash in Sao Paulo against Brazil, who are six points clear at the top of the CONMEBOL standings after winning all seven of their qualifiers.

However, Scaloni was confident his talisman would be fit to start when speaking with the media on Saturday.

"Leo is okay," he said. "This afternoon, we'll train and focus on the pitch. Those who played against Venezuela didn't touch the ball yesterday [Friday].

"We'll know 100 per cent this afternoon. In principle, he's fine. It was a big scare, but that's how it stayed."

Scaloni expects an extremely difficult match against the side Argentina beat 1-0 in the final of the Copa America this year.

"Whoever plays, they're important opposition. In no case do we minimise the game," he said.

"They're coming off an incredibly positive streak and they're at the same level whoever plays, with players of quality in every position.

"These are opponents of enormous quality, of enormous attacking power. If you're not ready for that, you can suffer. If you don't think the opponent can hurt you, you're making a mistake.

"We know that it can happen at some point, but we also know what we have to do when we have the ball. We only have one way to play: go deep with the ball into the opposition half."

Lionel Messi will win the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain before retiring at Barcelona, according to former team-mate Juan Roman Riquelme.

Messi joined the Ligue 1 giants on a two-year deal last month following the conclusion of his contract with Barca, making his debut as a substitute in their 2-0 victory over Reims.

While PSG have dominated French football over the past decade – winning seven Ligue 1 titles, as well as the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue on six occasions apiece in that time – the Champions League crown has continued to elude them.

Riquelme, who played alongside Messi for club and country, believes his ex-team-mate will provide the missing piece of the jigsaw in PSG's quest for continental glory.

But at the same time, the former midfielder does not think Messi's story at Barcelona is over just yet.

 

"Messi is the best because he likes to play ball," said the Boca Juniors vice-president, who won Olympic gold for Argentina alongside Messi in 2008.

"If PSG don't win the Champions League now with Messi, they don't win it anymore.

"I'm sure Messi is going to win the Champions League with Paris and retire with Barcelona."

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni urged his team not to "rest on our laurels" after the in-form Copa America champions set up a mouth-watering top-of-the-table World Cup qualifying showdown with rivals Brazil.

Lautaro Martinez, Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa were on target as Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 21 matches by downing 10-man Venezuela 3-1 in CONMEBOL qualifying on Thursday.

After first-half substitute Luis Martinez was sent off for a horrifying challenge on Lionel Messi in the 32nd minute, Argentina – playing for the first time since July's drought-ending Copa triumph over Brazil, their first title in 28 years – took control of proceedings.

Argentina are second and unbeaten through seven qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, six points behind Brazil, while they have not tasted defeat since November 2019.

As Argentina turn their attention to Sunday's blockbuster in Sao Paulo, where Brazil will put their perfect record on the line, Scaloni told reporters post-game: "It's special for the players to have the patch of champions on their chest, they fought so hard to win the Copa America.

"The important thing is to not rest on our laurels."

The complexion of the match changed when Luis Martinez – who replaced Jose Velazquez earlier in the half – saw red.

Messi went to ground after receiving a high foot to the shin and the challenge, initially a yellow card, was upgraded to red after the referee consulted the pitch-side monitor following a VAR review.

Lautaro Martinez then opened the scoring in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, the Inter star scoring his third goal in qualifying after being played through by Giovani Lo Celso.

Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa struck within three minutes – the 71st and 74th minute – to put the result beyond doubt, though Yeferson Soteldo's last-gasp spot-kick gave the home crowd something to celebrate.

Looking ahead to the Copa America final rematch with Brazil, Scaloni added: "We will have time to analyse how the players are. It will be a different game and everyone is available.

"We have things to improve, surely, but I'm not going to say them. We always have to improve, when you win or lose. We will try to do our best."

Lautaro Martinez added: "The three points are very important. Venezuela is a very complicated opponent. In South America, they're all difficult but we had a great first half.

"We created chances and after the goal we were able to work with more peace of mind. We brought home three important points. I think we had a great first half today, beyond the fact that they were down a man.

"For a striker, it's important to score but the most important thing is that the Argentina national team win. You always have to think about the group."

Argentina maintained their unbeaten start to CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 victory over 10-man Venezuela.

Lionel Messi and Argentina were playing for the first time since their drought-ending Copa America triumph on July 10 – La Albiceleste upstaged rivals Brazil for their first title since 1993.

Lautaro Martinez, Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa were on target for Argentina on Thursday, guiding Lionel Scaloni's side to their fourth win in seven qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022.

Venezuela played with 10 men from the 32nd minute after substitute Luis Martinez was sent off for a horror challenge on Messi and Argentina made the most of their numerical advantage – Lautaro Martinez breaking the deadlock in the second minute of first-half stoppage time before Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa completed the scoring in second period.

Yeferson Soteldo converted a 94th-minute penalty but it was a mere consolation for hosts Venezuela.

Argentina are second in the South American standings, provisionally three points off the pace, with Brazil in action against Chile, after extending their unbeaten streak to 21 matches.

Messi's miscued shot found the feet of Angel Di Maria in the 14th minute, but he was unable to clear his feet in time as his scooped effort was dealt with by Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez, while Rodrigo De Paul hit the crossbar.

Di Maria found himself in space seven minutes later after Jose Velazquez slipped and had to be withdrawn due to injury, however the Argentina winger wasted the opportunity, his outside-of-the-boot pass overhit and out of Lautaro Martinez's reach at the back post.

The complexion of the match changed approaching the half-hour mark when Luis Martinez – who replaced Velazquez seven minutes earlier – was sent off.

Messi went to ground after receiving a high foot to the shin and the challenge, initially a yellow card, was upgraded to red after the referee consulted the pitch-side monitor following a VAR review.

Argentina – who enjoyed 82 per cent possession after Luis Martinez's dismissal – opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with Lautaro Martinez tucking the ball past Farinez, having been played through by Giovani Lo Celso.

Venezuela pushed numbers forward and started to trouble Argentina's defence, Soteldo's deflected effort leaving Emiliano Martinez scrambling in the 68th minute as the shot flashed just wide of the post.

But Venezuela's hopes of a point were dashed when substitutes Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa struck within three minutes – the 71st and 74th minute – to put the result beyond doubt, though Soteldo's last-gasp spot-kick gave the home crowd something to celebrate.

 

What does it mean? 

After their memorable Copa success, Argentina continued where they left off on Thursday. Scaloni's men have not lost since July 2019 as they continue to build towards next year's World Cup.

Lautaro's away delights

Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez scored his third goal of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. All of his goals have come away from home, with the South American giants winning all three of those games.

Venezuela's drought goes on

It was always going to be tough playing with a man less against Argentina. Now, Venezuela have gone seven matches without a win. Not since November 2020 have Venezuela celebrated a victory.

What's next?

Next up for Argentina is a mouth-watering Copa America final rematch against Brazil in a top-of-the-table clash in Sao Paulo on Sunday, while Venezuela travel to Peru on the same day.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni wants to play star man Lionel Messi in all three of the side's upcoming World Cup qualifiers despite his lack of game-time at club level.

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona last month but only made his debut as a 66th-minute substitute in Sunday's 2-0 win at Reims.

The six-time Ballon d'Or had been left out previously as he built up his fitness having not played since Argentina's Copa America final victory over Brazil on July 10.

Messi has now linked up with the Argentine squad ahead of three qualifiers against Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia.

"We evaluate match by match and when I've spoken to [Messi] he says he's fine," Scaloni told reporters.

"Obviously he doesn’t have the same minutes in him as he did ahead of the Copa America but everyone knows what I think of him and he will play all three games if he is fit."

Scaloni was pressed on whether he preferred 34-year-old Messi to be playing in LaLiga with Barcelona or Ligue 1 with PSG but would not be drawn.

PSG, who were Ligue 1 runners-up last season, are one of the favourites for this season's Champions League title.

"If Messi was at Barcelona he would play with Sergio [Aguero]," Scaloni said. "We stay totally outside the transfer market because we know that being part of the Argentina squad is totally different to being at a club.

"Logically if we had to choose, we'd choose from him to be with many Argentines because that helps.

"We have no preferences, we know he is at a good club, one of the best in Europe and that will compete on the biggest stages. That is the most important thing."

Manchester City top FIFA's list of the biggest spenders on internationals transfers in the past decade.

The world governing body on Monday revealed $48.5billion worth of player trading was done between 2011 and 2020.

Premier League champions City have spent big on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias during that period, so it is no surprise they top the list.

Chelsea and Barcelona are second and third respectively on the list - which does not state how much each club spent in total.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid make up the top five, while 12 of the top 30 clubs, who alone have spent €19.3billion in the time period, are from England.

Neymar's move from Barcelona to PSG was for a world record fee of €222m, while Madrid brought in Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a deal that could reportedly climb to €175m (£150m).

Barcelona have the next two largest transfers, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele joining from Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Argentina forward Angel Di Maria also holds two slots in the top 10 of the highest individual transfers, his deal to join Manchester United from Madrid in 10th with his subsequent move to PSG a place higher.

Players of 204 different nationalities have been transferred since 2010-11, Brazil way out in front with 15,128 moves.

Agents have played a hugely increasing role in international transfers, with their involvement growing 69.1 per cent from 2011 to 2020.

From €131.1m worth of commissions in 2011 to €640.5m in 2019, a total of €3.5bn was paid for agents' commissions in international transfers over the course of the decade. 

The Wallabies and All Blacks will clash in the Bledisloe Cup in Perth before Queensland hosts the remainder of the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand pulled out of next weekend's third and final Bledisloe Test due to concerns over coronavirus, with the showdown initially set for August 28 at Optus Stadium.

The fixture will go ahead in Perth, with a date for the game set to be confirmed in the coming days following SANZAAR's announcement on Tuesday.

Afterwards, the Rugby Championship will head to Queensland for doubleheaders across four consecutive weekends in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville, where the centenary Test between the All Blacks and Springboks will be played.

The Wallabies play South Africa on September 12 at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, where the All Blacks then going head-to-head against Argentina.

September 18 will see the teams travel to Brisbane for Argentina-New Zealand and Australia-South Africa contests at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia and Argentina face-off at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville the following weekend on September 25, before the New Zealand-Argentina centenary encounter.

The Rugby Championship concludes on the Gold Coast on October 2, with the Pumas facing the Wallabies and Springboks taking on the All Blacks.

"We thought last year was tough when we had to implement a Tri-Nations tournament in Australia with South Africa absent due to the pandemic, but the current disruption caused by the 'delta variant' of COVID-19 has seen government authorities tighten up border bio-security measures substantially," said SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris.

"This is understandable and therefore, we had no option but to basically move the remainder of The Rugby Championship to Queensland.

"On behalf of SANZAAR and the national unions, I would like to sincerely thank the Queensland Government for working with us around the clock to provide a travel, accommodation, training and playing environment that will safely allow us to complete the tournament.

"SANZAAR and the national unions are incredibly grateful and will work closely with the states' health authorities to ensure all bio-security measures are adhered to." 

Rugby Australia (RA) CEO Andy Marinos added: "This is a world Rugby first and a truly special celebration of the game, in what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime event."

Lionel Messi is yet to play for Paris Saint-Germain this season, but has been called up to Argentina's squad for their World Cup qualifiers next month, with Paulo Dybala making a long-awaited return.

Having led Argentina to Copa America glory, Messi made the shock switch from Barcelona to Paris earlier in August, though he is yet to make his debut for Mauricio Pochettino's team.

The 34-year-old, along with fellow former Barca star Neymar, is expected to make his bow against Reims in PSG's final game before the international break.

Messi, along with club-mates Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes, would then travel to South America for matches against Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia.

However, despite Pochettino having given his blessing for Messi to play for his country next month, this could result in the trio missing up to four of PSG's September fixtures.

Argentina and Brazil are both on the French government's 'red list' for travellers, meaning arrivals must quarantine for 10 days once they return to France, unless they have been fully vaccinated. It is unknown if the players in question have yet received both doses.

PSG face Clermont on the second weekend in September, with a tussle against Lyon following a week later. A 10-day quarantine period would mean Messi and team-mates would certainly miss those matches, as well as the opening round of the Champions League group stage, which is to be played on September 14 and 15, while an away trip to Metz in Ligue 1 could also come too soon.

Travel restrictions could well change in the coming weeks, though PSG will not be the only team fretting over possible mandatory quarantine for players in Lionel Scaloni's squad.

Premier League players Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia, both of Aston Villa, and Cristian Romero of Tottenham would have to isolate regardless of their vaccination status under the current travel restrictions imposed by the UK government.

Meanwhile, Juventus forward Dybala has earned a recall after almost two years out of the picture.

Dybala, who endured an injury hit 2020-21 but scored in Juve's 2-2 draw with Udinese on Sunday, last featured for Argentina in November 2019.

With Sergio Aguero and Mauro Icardi both unavailable due to injury, and Lautaro Martinez a doubt despite being included, Dybala has made the cut to round off Scaloni's attack.

Argentina squad in full:

Franco Armani (River Plate), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Juan Musso (Atalanta),Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal); Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina), Nahuel Molina Lucero (Udinese), Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax); Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis); Julian Alvarez (River Plate), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Joaquin Correa (Lazio), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain).

South Africa are now unbeaten for five consecutive Rugby Championship matches for the first time since 2009 following Saturday's 29-10 defeat of Argentina.

The Springboks made 11 changes to the starting line-up from last week's 32-12 win and it heralded a more one-sided contest at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

A first half dictated by the boot of Handre Pollard and too many cheap Pumas penalties allowed South Africa a more carefree second 40 minutes, with Makazole Mapimpi and Malcolm Marx scoring their two tries in a straightforward victory.

Pollard's penalty opened the scoring after some good early Pumas possession, before Trevor Nyakane was forced off with injury inside a quarter of an hour.

Argentina gave up eight penalties inside 25 minutes, with Pollard stretching the lead to 9-0 before Domingo Miotti kicked his side onto the scoresheet.

Pollard made it four from four as the Springboks continued to draw ill-discipline from their opponents. Referee Karl Dickson had soon had enough, sending Rodrigo Buni to the sin bin for offside, with Pollard again making no mistake with his fifth penalty before half-time.

Miotti missed his mark either side of the interval before South Africa got the first try of the contest, Mapimpi racing in down the left after a good Willie Le Roux pass at the end of a quick move.

The power of the Springbok pack was simply too much and Marx went over after another maul, Pollard adding the extras to keep up his spotless record.

With South Africa chasing a bonus point and Argentina desperate to reduce the deficit, the contest went beyond 84 minutes before Pablo Matera battled his way over the line and Nicolas Sanchez converted.

De Jager dominates on 50th cap

Lood De Jager marked his half-century for the Boks with another imperious performance as the pack once again proved too strong.

The Sale Sharks lock made seven carries and won all 14 of his tackles, having not missed any of his 16 attempts a week ago.

Pumas pay penalty

Argentina simply made life too easy for South Africa through their own lack of discipline, giving up 21 penalties to the Boks' 11.

It proved the undoing of a decent defensive effort that saw Tomas Lavanini and Julian Montoya reach double figures for tackles.

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