ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Independiente, with debts all over the place, have not been paying their players or staff for more than two months, nor the teachers at their school.
The junior players living at the club say there is not enough food, probably because stores will not give them any more credit.
Yet Independiente have 50,000 members who pay monthly fees fans buy tickets to watch them play. So where does the money go?
It’s a mystery.
Last week, when Independiente were due to play in the National B Division, the stadium staff went on strike threatening a closure which have cost the club a points loss. Suddenly the money appeared to pay them part of the debt in the nick of time. The stadium was prepared and the match could be played. But that was only part of the problem.
When Javier Cantero was elected president, one of his promises was that he would get rid of the club’s hooligan gang. He was promised full suport from then cabinet chief Juan Abal Medina and (in)security secretary Sergio Berni.
That support never materialized and Cantero was left alone. Needless to say, he never succeeded and the gang made his life difficult ever since.
Opposition parties saw their chance to gain power by offering £1m to pay debts to players provided Cantero brought forward elections. That brought in government politics and Cantero was told not to resign by government sources because the opposition party included not only hooligan leader “Bebote” Alvarez, but also Hugo Moyano, boss of part of the CGT labour union which opposes the government.
The money was a tempting offer but in several meetings, there was disagreement over the election date and other little matters which all seemed to indicate that government sources did not want the agreement to succeed … and it did not.
Also, while the opposition group tried to deny it, it seems the £1m was black money and the donors were afraid of the tax authorities wanting to investigate its origin.
Finally, Cantero announced that elections would be brought forward to July.
Most of Independiente’s ills were produced under the previous president.
Five years ago Senator Anibal Fernández announced that club presidents who took money from their clubs would be prosecuted, There have been many guilty presidents but no prosecutions.