ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: The Colón-Atlético Rafaela decision, two weeks ago, was a straightforward case: Colón did not turn up so Rafaela won the points.
But a useless Argentinian FA. which cannot remember its own rules nor keep to them when it does, the Argentinian players’ association (in the name of its secretary Sergio Marchi) and the government’s labour ministry poked their noses in a something which was nothing to do with them to postpone the decision.
Marchi had told the Colón players not to turn out since they had not been paid for seven months yet said then that the match would be played later. He had no authority to say that.
Then Marchi went to the Labour Ministry to persuade it to agree to postpone the decision and now he is due to meet all club captains to seek their agreement to strike if the match is not replayed.
Marchi should do more to look after players’ welfare instead of meddling in other affairs.
The Labour Ministry should govern better instead of meddling in sports rules while the much-criticised AFA Disciplinary Committee should stick to its rules.
Three entities have postponed a straightforward decision for no tangible reasons.
This column previously mentioned that there had been a case of a lower division club not turning up and promptly losing points but there have been top division cases.
In 1958, the death of a fan resulted in River Plate’s stadium being closed for the next match when they were due to play Huracán at FC Oeste. In protest, River Plate did not turn up.
In 1971, there was a general players’ strike, also because of unpaid salaries, and clubs played with junior teams which is what Colón should have done the other day.
Boca Juniors went to Huracán (Ingeniero White) who joined the strike and did not play. In both cases, the points were given to the clubs which turned up without further argument so how can the AFA take another decision with Colón?
How? Because in football here, with its organisation a disaster, anything is possible.
Another rule which the AFA seems to have forgotten is that in the last two rounds of the championship, last weekend and the next one, all matches with a bearing on the title must be played at the same time.
Yet can no-one at the AFA read?
The current championship is tight with nine teams still having title chances before the start of the 18th round.
Yet Colón v Vélez Sarsfield, Tigre v Atlético Rafaela, Arsenal v Belgrano and All Boys v Newell’s Old Boys played on Saturday while San Lorenzo v Estudiantes, Lanús v Boca Juniors and River Plate v Argentinos Juniors played yesterday, all at different times … or were these orders from the government’s Free TV soccer for all programme which should not meddle with rules either.