May 24, 2013
Some hopes for 2013
Independiente deserves to avoid relegation
A journalist dealing with soccer is not supposed to favour any club — although many journalists do — but I am not a fan. Yet I fervently hope that Independiente, whose current position is precarious, is not relegated this year, firstly because a club does not deserve to go down because its former president (Julio Comparada) ruined it and secondly because current president Javier Cantero is the man of the year in local soccer.
Cantero was the man who stood up against soccer hooligans in 2012 and they have not made life easy for him, nor for the club. He has been a stone in the shoe for most other club presidents who refuse to fight hooligans and even support them. The latter kind should be the first to go to jail. Other presidents say Cantero is fighting a battle he cannot win. Perhaps they are right that he cannot win because they do not want to help him.
The fervent hope is hope that Cantero does not give up like Mónica Nizzardo, the founder of Salvemos al Fútbol (Let's Save Soccer), who decided to quit this week because she said the hooligans’ issue has no solution. That is because the sport has too many dishonest money grabbers and there are not enough people who are interested in saving soccer. Cantero also wants to get rid of another curse in the sport — middlemen in transfers, because they only make transfers more difficult and more expensive. Hopefully he wins that battle also by arranging transfers only between clubs.
— Last July, Argentine FA (AFA) chief Julio Grondona said for the umpteenth time that clubs with debts to players (and others) would be sanctioned with loss of affiliation or relegation to the division below at the start of season 2012/13 last August. It never happens. I don't know why he keeps saying it if it is never done — even now that the government, paying more every year for soccer TV rights, wants the AFA to make sure that the clubs, most of which continue to increase debts, are using the money properly. If clubs lost affiliation, there would not be enough affiliated clubs left to run a competition. If they were relegated, there would be hardly any clubs left in the top division, but clubs in debt should not be allowed to register new players. This week it was reported that All Boys players finished the season still being owed October salaries.
— That this year fans of visiting clubs be allowed to matches in all divisions. If there is trouble, what is the expensive police there for? Also, that matches be played at decent times when fans can see their teams and not on all days of the week at inconvenient times.
— That former presidents Julio Comparada and José María Aguilar be brought to trial and made to pay back what their clubs lost through their "mismanagement" or go to jail. Unless they are multi-billionaires, they will not be able to pay the money back.
— In 2007, the AFA announced a new ticket system by which tickets can only be obtained from cash machines with a special card issued by a club or another office and they have been announcing it about every six months ever since to start the following season. It never happened. The latest announcement at the end of last year said that it would start this month. If and when it does, it has the system to hopefully keep all hooligans out of stadiums and there would not be any more free tickets for them.
— Will the AFA at least reduce referees’ mistakes, which have decided many matches, by placing an extra official behind each goal to make sure the ball crosses the goal line to either award, or not award a goal? This is the only aid currently authorized by FIFA, the international soccer federation.
— Will Congress finally do something useful and make tougher laws against criminals which could be applied to soccer hooligans (the first police detention 15 days in jail, second time double and doubling in length every time, for example)?. And will the courts abide by them instead of coming up with strange excuses for not prosecuting hooligans?
— Will the relegation system (counting points over three seasons) finally be scrapped in spite of Grondona's resistance? It is stupid, resisted by the majority and often results in not the worst teams being relegated.
— Will politicians and other officials start doing something for their country instead of protecting soccer hooligans? A clear case is that of Boca Juniors hooligan gang leader Rafael Di Zeo. He has one court case after another against him, but "somehow" always avoids being prosecuted. The latest case against him seemed to be sound, it was dropped because a judge made a mistake in a date (???).
— Will club officials and committee members stop politicizing and pull together for the good of the club instead of looking for votes to win the next elections?
— Will fans and officials think harder and not blame the club committee and president when it was the previous committee which caused the disaster (example River Plate) and will they not blame only the coach when the team does not win?
— Finally, not soccer. Will tennis star Juan Martín del Potro relent and play for his country in every Davis Cup tie?
The Day of the Innocent (December 28) was a week ago, but if you believe any of the above you must be innocent!