December 17, 2017
Friday, April 11, 2014

Fixed match probe useless

Former Racing Club president Gastón Cogorno.
Former Racing Club president Gastón Cogorno.
Former Racing Club president Gastón Cogorno.
By Eric Weil / For The Herald

Ten months ago, Quilmes beat Racing, now a court decides to investigate a complaint made a week after match

Over 10 months ago, Quilmes beat Racing Club 1-0 in last year’s final championship, a result which helped to relegate Independiente for the first time. There is no doubt that the result was fixed with Racing Club wanting to lose so as to push Avellaneda rivals Independiente down, but only now, 10 months later, has a court decided to investigate an official complaint made a week after that match. That is another one of those stupid things done in the name of soccer — not the court investigation, but the timing.

The match should have been investigated, but to do it 10 months later is useless. Argentine FA chief Julio Grondona, former Racing Club president Gastón Cogorno, current Quilmes president Aníbal Fernández and former Racing Club coach Luis Zubeldía will be among those called to testify. None of them will say anything to help the investigation and if they knew of any arrangement, they will not say so. So what will happen? Nothing, as is usual with so many court cases.

But all this brings up the question which has always puzzled me. Why do fans of one club always hate the other club in their area so much to the point of wanting its relegation. Estudiantes’ Sebastián Verón, who played for years in Europe, mentioned the pointless rivalry in La Plata between fans of his club and Gimnasia y Esgrima which, as in similar situations elsewhere, has produced fighting, injuries and even deaths. Nobody took any notice and I feel it is the result of poor or lack of education and brain problems.

Goal that wasn’t

Last weekend saw another one of those cases where the referee decides a result. A goal was awarded by referee Fernando Echenique against River Plate although the ball had apparently not crossed the goal line completely as rules require. The linesman did not raise his flag and did not say anything either. The referee later admitted the mistake and both he and the linesman have been left out of next week’s matches, but what good does that do?

TV shots have also shown that River Plate goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero stopped with high ball, possibly behind the goal line and then pulled it back to put it on the line as he fell and one supposes that the goal-line technology being used in this year’s World Cup (and only in England’s rich Premier League while other big European leagues would not accept it) would have verified that. But this goal line technology is expensive and hardly comes into use. It was tried in last year’s Confederations Cup and never needed. Far more useful is the method favoured by the European Football Union (UEFA) of two extra referees standing on the goal lines which would also help to spot fouls inside the penalty area and grabbing of opponents, especially after corners and which the math referee does not see. There are complaints of mistakes after almost every match.

On asking the AFA what was gong to be done about this problem here, the answer was that here were no plans and there were more important problems to fix before this. One wonders what these more important problems are as nothing seems to get fixed these days.

In fact, technology seems to be conspicuous by its absence in local soccer. Cameras directed at spectators to pick out trouble don’t seem to be working properly whenever really needed. The electronic AFAPlus ticket system to enter stadiums, which has been promised for the last seven years, is still not in use, etc.

Want visitors back

The government wants the ban on fans of visiting teams lifted for next season, but in a meeting at the AFA this week, (in)security secretary Sergio Berni mentioned that would not be possible until 2015. Soccer should always be played in front of fans of both teams, but how does Berni calculate reasons for which visiting fans were banned will be different in 2015 than now if nothing is being done to get rid of hooligans. Berni has also always said that one of the conditions is that the AFAPlus ticket system is up and working at all stadiums.

The people in charge of making it work are blaming private firms involved and the Buenos Aires City government for not authoring certain works. Blaming Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri is a favourite pastime. But why not blame club officials who are not all that keen to get it started. They don’t want to keep their hooligans out and save money by not having to pay them travel expenses to go to away matches. They also save money by having to pay for less police to keep order, and money seems to be more important to them than club members.

On the other hand, that idea of keeping visiting team fans out is all rubbish. In all matches there are visiting team fans. Clubs sell them tickets as “neutrals” at much higher prices. People even get in to see matches which, for disciplinary reasons, are supposed to be played behind “closed doors” which however are slightly open.

In the recent Quilmes v Boca Juniors match, for example, there were at least 250 spectators and it’s the same at other matches ordered to play without spectators.

Independiente takeover

The agreement to bring forward elections at Independiente to July in exchange for badly needed cash from an opposition group including union boss Hugo Moyano (10 million pesos in five installments) was finally agreed, but the actual signing was delayed. First, the present committee wanted guarantees that the money had been deposited — always a thorny point. Then it wanted to stay until September, followed by differences over the actual election date (only a one-week difference) which was difficult to understand. But the rumour persisted that the government had told current president Javier Cantero, to hang on, supposedly to keep out opposition CGT boss Moyano.

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