AFA's Grondona laid to rest in Avellaneda cemetery
President of the Association of Argentine Football (AFA) Julio Grondona was buried today in the Buenos Aires province locality of Avallaneda. Among top figures that paid their last respects to the also vice-president of FIFA were Argentine star of Barcelona Lionel Messi and N° 1 of the world soccer's governing body Joseph Blatter.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi and FIFA president Joseph Blatter showed up at the training facility of the Association of Argentine Football (AFA) in the Buenos Aires province locality of Ezeiza this morning to attend the wake of Grondona.
The funeral cortege left the Ezeiza campus around noon heading to the Avellaneda cemetery in BA province where Grondona’s rests were put along with his wife’s Nélida Pariani who passed away in 2012.
Julio Grondona died on Wednesday of heart failure aged 82 after 35 years at the helm of Argentine football.
“There will only ever be one Grondona. He was the most important director in the history of Argentine football,” said former Boca Juniors chairman Mauricio Macri, now Mayor of Buenos Aires city after attending the wake at the training complex on the outskirts of the capital.
Boca great Juan Román Riquelme, now back at his first club Argentinos Juniors, also paid his respects along with Alfio Basile, who coached Argentina to their last two major tiles, the Copa America in 1991 and 1993.
“We’ve come to greet the whole family. Julio always behaved great with us, he was a simple type, a man of the barrio. All he cared for apart from his family was football,” Basile told reporters at the complex gates.
Luis Segura, who as AFA vice-president has taken charge until the organisation holds elections for a successor, said Grondona had been exhausted by the World Cup finals in Brazil, worn down by the tension of Argentina’s chances of winning their third title.
“I think he came back very tired from the World Cup, it made him very tense. He had big hopes of achieving the championship,” Segura said.
The dream fell a match short, Argentina losing the final to Germany 1-0 after extra time in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
There is going to be a meeting in October to decide who will be in charge of AFA until 2015, when the elections come.
Apart from Segura, there are other possible candidates to become AFA’s new president. Aníbal Fernández, Quilmes chairman and with much political influence, is one of them.
Senator Fernández, who is also president of the Argentine Field Hockey Conference (CAH), attended Grondona’s wake yesterday and said: “It’s going to be hard to find someone as capable as Grondona.” Talking about the chances of presenting himself as a candidate, Fernández answered: “Not a chance.”
Lanús President, Alejandro Marón, is probably the man who will take Grondona’s place. The lawyer is actually in his third term in Lanús, and his achievements at the club, his youth (23) and good relationship with Grondona make him one of the main candidates.
Grondona’s son, Julio Ricardo, president of Arsenal de Sarandí, has the support from many men who were close to “Don Julio.” Miguel Silva (Arsenal vice-president), Miguel Ángel Lemme (Defensa y Justicia chairman), Juan Carlos Crespi (Boca Juniors vice-president) and Segura could present Julio Ricardo as a candidate to take his father’s place.