April 16, 2014
Monday, December 9, 2013

Hockey unfairness failed to pay off for Argentina

By Eric Weil
Argentina and Netherlands played a magnificent semifinal in the Women’s World League in Tucumán on Saturday as befits a clash between the two world top-ranked teams. The Dutch only won in a penalty shoot-out, but perhaps justice was done — not because they were any better, but because of the unfair organization of the tournament by the Argentine Hockey Confederation (CAH) for which the International Hockey Federation (FIH) must also take the blame for allowing it.
As this column has mentioned several times, the tournament should never have been played in summer in one of the hottest places in Argentina — even if CAH president Aníbal Fernández argues summer begins on December 21! There may be some justification for Argentina always playing in the evening (for spectator attendance reasons), while others played during the day in temperatures ranging from 32-37ºC, but it is still not fair in an international tournament. In the knock-out stage, Argentina even the original fixture times changed to let them play in the evening. No wonder other teams, specially the Europeans, protested. Then Argentina even wanted the draw changed to avoid facing the Dutch in the semifinal, but here the FIH finally put its foot down and refused.
Last Tuesday, an FIH confirmation appeared that next year’s Women’s Champions Trophy would be played in Tucumán at the same time, but later Tucumán HA president, Rafael Pirlo, said this was wrong and that they had asked to organize the tournament, but nothing had been decided. Perhaps other countries had formally protested. Local professional soccer matches must not be played before 5pm until March in Argentina, but who is supposed to protect hockey players?

COLÓN. Last Thursday, the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) disciplinary committee finally took the logical step of giving the points to Atlético Rafaela in its match against Colón who did not turn up because its players were on strike three weeks ago. The decision had been postponed for no logical reason and last Thursday, at the last moment, AFA chief Julio Grondona rang up to order them to postpone the decision further. Why? If Grondona continues to mess up soccer like this, we think it is high time he resigns immediately!
Another culprit is soccer union secretary Sergio Marchi, who wangled the first postponement. He had told the Colón players not to turn up and that the match would be replayed. Now he wants to justify his words, but he should protect all players. Other clubs involved in relegation have complained and also want Colón to lose three more points, according to law.
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