September 16, 2014
AFA still wrecks soccer
The Argentine FA (AFA), which does its best to wreck local soccer, had to do it right up to the last day of the season. Two Buenos Aires teams, River Plate and San Lorenzo, winners of the season’s two tournaments, were sent to San Luis to play for the Champions Trophy. The reason, to let people in the province see top teams, but the club’s members and fans have the first right to see their teams live without extra expense. The AFA cares little for fans who, after all, keep the game alive. Also, the small stadium’s field was in poor condition for two teams which try to play on the ground. River Plate won 1-0, but why did they have to play without their World Cup players while Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid had them all in the Champions League final on Saturday.
THE QUESTION IS. The AFA was successful in sending Colón down after Saturday’s play-off which should not have taken place. Atlético Rafaela, 1-0 winners, were better on the day, but when Colón appeared to come back in the second half, a Colón player was sent off for hitting an opponent with his elbow as he fell which should never have been a red card. True, Colón had big debts unable to pay, suffered under the previous crooked administration with president Germán Lerche — once in charge of national teams, but with whom AFA chief Julio Grondona apparently fell out. The AFA, by FIFA’s orders, deducted six points from Colón off for not paying debts which should also have been done with Independiente at the same time, but was not. Also, the unpaid players were told by the players union not to turn up for one match.
This crazy relegation system caused the playoff between teams never near the bottom of the tables. Colón finished seventh, Rafaela ended 16th in the last tournament. If they had to playoff to earn more money, then it should have been with home and away games, with aggregate scores counting and Colón having the sporting advantage, but never with post-match penalties which seemed a possible on Saturday.
Will the AFA now also be successful in getting promotion for Independiente of whom Grondona was a past president? It seems as if they have been helped by refereeing decisions for some time, apart from that non-existent penalty to win last week. This columnist did not see Saturday’s 2-1 win, but rivals Defensa y Justicia finished with eight men, although two went off in the last five minutes.