April 23, 2014
Monday, December 2, 2013

Poking noses into wrong place

By Eric Weil

The Colón-Atlético Rafaela match decision (two weeks ago) was a straight forward case. Colón did not turn up and Rafaela won the points. But a useless Argentine FA (AFA), which cannot remember its own rules, nor keep to them, the Argentine Players Association (in the name of its secretary Sergio Marchi) and the government (the Labour Ministry) poked their noses in a matter which should have nothing to do with them to postpone the decision.

Marchi told the Colón players not to show up in view of their not having been paid (for seven months, they say) and then said that the match will be played later. He had no authority to say that. Then he went to the Labour Ministry to get them to agree to postpone the decision and today he was due to have a meeting with all club captains to get them to agree to strike if the match is not replayed. Marchi should do more to look after players’ welfare instead of meddling in other affairs.

The government (represented by the Labour Ministry) should govern better instead of meddling in sports rules and the much criticized AFA (Disciplinary Committee) should stick to its rules. So three entities have postponed a straightforward decision for no tangible reasons.

This column previously mentioned that there has been a case of a lower division club not turning up and promptly losing points, but there have been top division cases. In 1958, the death of a fan resulted in River Plate’s stadium being closed for the next match when they were due to play Huracán at Ferro Carril Oeste. In protest, River Plate did not turn up. In 1971, there was a strike, also because of unpaid salaries, and clubs played with junior teams which is what Colón should have done the other day. Boca Juniors went to Huracán (Ingeniero White) who joined the strike and did not play. In both cases, the points were given to the clubs which turned up without further argument, so how can they take a different decision with Colón? But in local soccer, with its organization a disaster, anything is possible.

BREAKING MORE RULES. Another rule which the AFA seems to have forgotten, is that in the last two rounds of the championship, last weekend and the next one, all matches with a bearing on the title must be played at the same time, but is there nobody at the AFA who can read?

The current championship is very close and nine teams still had title chances before the start of the 18th round. Yet, Colón v Vélez Sarsfield, Tigre v Atlético Rafaela, Arsenal v Belgrano and All Boys v Newell’s Old Boys played on Saturday while San Lorenzo v Estudiantes, Lanús v Boca Juniors and River Plate v Argentinos Juniors played yesterday, all at different times... or were these orders from the “Free TV soccer for all” programme which should not meddle with rules either.

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