BUENOS AIRES: Bosses of Argentina’s leading clubs – described by Diego Maradona as “like the Addams Family” have taken a decisive step towards resolving the stand-off with the government over the controversial Futbol Para Todos programme writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Last week President Mauricio Macri warned that football in Argentina was in a state of “terminal crisis” and confirmed his scrapping the FPT deal under which the state paid a notional market rate for free-to-air broadcasting of domestic league football.
Macri, a former president of the country’s most popular club Boca Juniors and then Mayor of Buenos Aires, was elected in 2015 with a mandate to overturn much of the political legacy of Nestor and then Cristina Kirchner.
That legacy included the deal FPT deal set up by Julio Grondona, the long-time president of the Argentinian AFA and former senior FIFA vice-president who died in the summer of 2014.
Last autumn a ‘normalisation committee’ was imposed on the AFA by the world federation and South American confederation CONMEBOL. However its own work was halted in the past fortnight by the serious illness of its chairman, Belgrano president Armando Perez.
In the meantime the 21 Primera clubs have accepted a government diktat that it would pay £17m to cancel the contract which ran until 2019. They are also claiming a further £17m from the normalisation committee out of AFA funds.
A minority group, comprising Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici along with Independiente’s Hugo Moyano and Racing’s Victor Blanco, had sought in vain for the government to maintain FPT for a further six months.
Turner, Fox and ESPN are the three rival broadcasting chains waiting in the wings to bid for the league’s television rights.
Separately the normalisation committee has presented, after consulation with FIFA, new statutes for the AFA which create an assembly consisting of 47 members (compared with the current 75).
The 47 would comprise the president, 22 top division clubs, 18 lower division club reprsentatives and another six places for former referees, beach soccer, women’s football, futsal and coaches.
Maradona contributed his own derisive thoughts on returning to Buenos Aires from attendance at the FIFA Awards Gala and then an event in Naples to celebrate the ?? anniversary of the club Serie A triumph in ??.
He said: “The AFA is broken, all the club presidents say so. It’s like the home of the Addams Family.”