Should Cantero stay or go?
Current Independiente president takes blame for problems caused by former head Comparada
Independiente is a club in crisis from which it cannot escape easily, so the always latent political opposition has taken its chance to offer a minor solution providing the president, Javier Cantero, resigns and brings forward elections to end of June. Some members are opposed and there was a rumour that the government has told Cantero to stay. Why? Because the ones trying to remove Cantero to take his place are led by people such as Hugo Moyano, the anti-government transport union leader and Pablo “Bebote” álvarez, the leader of the club’s hooligan gang. While Moyano says he has no time to be president, álvarez wants to run for this top job.
Also, the group is connected with former president Julio Comparada who is responsible for most of Independiente’s problems and under whom the hooligan gang flourished. This makes the whole shindig more political. The group has promised to pay the current players the two months’ salary they are owed providing Cantero leaves at the end of June. While Cantero agreed at the end of March, nothing was signed officially, but this was supposed to be decided last night.
It will be remembered that when Cantero took over, he swore he would get rid of the club’s hooligans. That was easier said than done, especially as he got no support from other clubs, nor from the Football Association’s president, Julio Grondona (who all seem to think soccer hooligans are necessary), nor even from some members of his own club committee. Cantero cut off the privileges the hooligans had under Comparada, so it was on the cards that they would make life difficult for him.
Cantero has made mistakes. So have practically all club presidents. But Cantero is taking the blame for problems mainly caused by former president Comparada and these are mainly financial. The club's debts have increased during Cantero’s presidency, but that is because claims of money owed have been coming in from all sides — even for the new stadium, source of the biggest corruption, which was supposed to be built with money from the transfer of Sergio Agüero, but is still not finished. But soccer fans do not bother about all this. For them, the main problem is that Independiente was relegated (for the first time) and that it is not playing well and may not make a quick return this season.
If Independiente now starts winning and surging up the National B Division table, the problem would be over for them, but not for Cantero’s political opponents (including the hooligan gang). He said that if he was the problem he would go. But he was not THE problem which is where the money would come from.
Referees continue to decide the local championship — accidentally, or on purpose.
Picking out just three matches last week-end, there was River Plate’s winner in the 2-1 classic against Boca Juniors which came following a corner that was not a corner. Lanús beat Rosario Central by the same score and Abreu’s equalizer was not allowed by the referee due to off-side that was not off-side. In the Atlético Rafaela v Racing 2-2 clash, the referee failed to give an obvious penalty to Racing. Often referees afterwards realize their mistakes, but too late to possibly alter results.
Referees often complain that they are being criticized more now because of TV which shows incidents more clearly than the referee’s human eye, but the cases mentioned above do not fall into this category. They were all seen with the naked eye by people in the stadium... but not by the referee. Also, none of the above mistakes would have been solved by goal-line technology which is the only technology so far permitted by FIFA after years of discussion. This will be used in this year's World Cup, although it may never be necessary, while other possible glaring referee mistakes will not be helped by any technology. FIFA is taking about the use of further technology aids for referees, but it will be years before they come to a decision.
In a championship so even with so few goals scored and only five points separating the top seven with eight matches to go, these mistakes make all the difference to decide the title and other placings.
The number of goals per match in the final championship, by the way, is so far barely two per match — the lowest that can be remembered.
Uruguay‘s president, José Mujica, is tired of the worsening soccer hooligan problem in his country — not like our Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who praised their fervour and said they were part of soccer folklore. In the recent Peñarol v Nacional classic, hooligans attacked police and there were 40 injured.
Mujica withdrew police from matches which meant they could not be played — nor forthcoming Libertadores Cup matches — and the entire Uruguayan FA (UAF) board resigned. There was also fear that FIFA could suspend Uruguay as it does when there is government intervention into soccer. That could even mean that Uruguay would not be able to play in this year’s World Cup, but UAF’s president, Eugenio Figueredo played down this possible threat.
Yet Mujica relented and decided to send police again under the condition that the UAF punishes clubs by taking points off them for incidents at their stadiums.
This column has always been against taking points off clubs for this as it punishes innocent players and fans. Yet it might be a good way for club committees to finally realize that their hooligans do nothing but damage the club. Although they have been doing this for years, most club officials still think that their hooligan gangs are more important.