ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: The Argentinian Football Association makes rules it can not, or will not, keep – such as keeping visiting team fans out of stadia – and others which it manipulates at will when it deems necessary.
Last weekend Santa Fe´s Colón did not turn up to play Atlètico Rafaela because their players were on strike after having not been paid for seven months. The club will say they gave the players some cheques which bounced.
Rule 109 states clearly that opponents should gain the points while Colón would also be fined and, perhaps harshly, also be deducted three points.
In living memory, such a situation has happened only once before, in 2006 when Liniers did not turn up against Berazategui for a First Division D match which saw the home club gain the points. So why have Colón and Rafaela been given time to make their “defence” (of what?) and the Disciplinary Committee will make a decision only later this week?
Players union chief Sergio Marchi had told Colón players not to turn up and later told them that the match would be replayed although he had no authority to say that.
Later in the week AFA chief Julio Grondona said that the Colón-Rafaela match would be decided according to the rules. Rafaela hope so but Grondona has said other things in the past which never happened … such as clubs would not be able to sign new players if they had debts (In some other countries, clubs in debt are even relegated.)
Colón (like Independiente) also have another sword hanging over them, a loss of six points ordered by FIFA if they do not pay an $802,000 debt to a European club for a player they bought some time ago.
This is a good example to other clubs who are generally in the habit of “buying” players. but not paying for them.
At first, it was suggested that the AFA would lend them the money but it did not and Grondona also said last week that there will be no more AFA loans for anybody and that clubs would have to balance their budget or else.
He did not go so far as to say what the punishment would be.
Now the government, which pays high fees for the televising of matches, is pressing the AFA to put its house (that of its clubs) in order financially. But if the AFA finally takes the necessary action there would be hardly any transfers of players during the summer and then there would be no final championship next year.
This is precisely why the AFA could, under pressure, make some more new rules and then, when the time comes, again not enforce them.