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October 2, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014

It all hinged on Boca-River game after all

River Plate’s Fernando Cavenaghi (l) embraces head coach Ramón Díaz in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
By Eric Weil / Sportsworld

After the match, many protested that referee Maglio had helped Ramón Diaz’ team with several decisions

So River Plate won the 2013/14 season Final Championship with a five-point lead and much maligned Boca Juniors finished second after a good final run, but by analyzing results you will find that it all hinged on one game, the classic in which River beat Boca 2-1. If it had gone the other way, Boca Juniors would have been champions by one point. After that match, there were strong protests that the referee (Carlos Maglio) had helped River Plate with several decisions, which protesters said, had also been the case in other matches. Maglio’s contract will apparently not be renewed by the Argentine Football Association (AFA), but River Plate are champions.

I have heard it said that two one-round championships, to be discontinued, give the big clubs less chance of titles. Stupid, of course, and it was shown this season. River won the Final Championship with Boca Juniors second. What other arguments do you, and specially AFA chief Julio Grondona, have against short championships, which gave us seasons of interesting contests to make up for the poor quality.

Once again, 72% of matches were either drawn or decided by one goal — about the same as in the Initial Championship. A few more goals might have made it more interesting. The average per match was only 2,09.

IRREGULARITIES

Once again wrong decisions by referees, accidental or on purpose, practically decided the close championship while the AFA refuses to use electronic aids for referees or, at least the cheaper putting more referees on each goal line. The penalty given to Independiente to win by the referee was pure invention and not seen by anybody, not even TV.

It looks as if the AFA wants to help Independiente to gain promotion back into the top division, while sending Colón down. The FIFA ordered the AFA to take six points off Independiente and Colón for not paying debts to foreign clubs for players. Neither club has any money. The points were immediately taken off Colón which would otherwise not have to play a relegation playoff against Atlético Rafaela tomorrow. Nothing was done regarding Independiente for a time and finally it was decided to take the points off next season (if ever?) so as not to spoil their promotion chances this season.

RIVER AND BOCA

As mentioned before, River Plate improved once coach Ramón Díaz stopped changing the team every week. Some of that team will not be there next season, either because they ended their contracts and want to leave or the club cannot afford to pay them (Teófilo Gutiérrez) or they cannot refuse to sell them (Manuel Lanzini) — a pity. They are trying to buy, loan or sign contract free players, yet they have an enormous junior potential, and recently finished a match with eight players which began at the club. They generally have the majority of players in junior international squads from U-20 downwards, but like other clubs, do not make the best use of them and even sell some.

Likewise, Boca Juniors finally got a winning team, but many players may not be there next season. Some said they want to leave and others are on the market. Although one of the better off clubs, Boca says it must sell before it can buy. Coach Bianchi says he wants to get seven players, yet they also have plenty of promising juniors. Last season he chose some new players badly. Now he has been told that if he does not win a title next season, he must go.

RACING, ARGENTINOS JRS. Racing Club, now looking for yet another coach after dismissing Reinaldo Merlo, also finished a recent match with 12 men of the 19 player squad who had begun at the club. Racing sold some good youngsters and another (Rodrigo De Paul) has just been sold while former international striker Diego Milito — whose contract has just been terminated by Inter Milan — wants to return to Racing and bring other veterans with him from Europe. Racing, which just finished two points from the bottom, are doing things the wrong way. Many players think that Luis Zubeldía, one of many dismissed coaches, was the best and things started going wrong when he left.

Relegated Argentinos Juniors has given so many internationals to Argentina that the list is far too long to enumerate, but they all left. But the flow seems to have dried up. Coach Claudio Borghi, who was one of those, says he needs at least 10 new players to make a proper team. All these clubs wanting new players for next season will have a job to get good ones.

AND THE HOOLIGANS

This week, the government finally sent a list of 1,500 dangerous hooligans not allowed into local stadiums and/or with court cases — but there are more — requested by the Brazilian authorities. It had been reluctant to do this before, but Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli sent a list of hooligans in his province, forcing the government to do the same as it would have looked bad for a province to send a list and not the central government.

In last Friday’s column it was mentioned that an AFA spokesman said that there were zero World Cup tickets for hooligans who were clamouring to get some free. Now, an organization called “Football in peace in Argentina” wants AFA chief Julio Grondona investigated for having given the hooligans 900 tickets. The investigation would need to find out how many tickets were received by the AFA and who they went to. Will it be successful?

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