ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: It’s only two players – Maximiliano Rodríguez and goalkeeper Agustín Orion – but they caused all the controversy when picked for the national team’s friendly  matches in the United States last Friday and Tuesday.

Why? Because both are key players for Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors respectively who were both fighting for the league title this weekend.

Who is to blame — the Argentine FA (AFA) or national team coach Alex Sabella? Blame the AFA which, obviously cannot organise the country’s football anymore, but could at least copy Europe’s organisation where no top league games were played this weekend.

Sabella has few enough chances to try out players for next year’s World Cup. Would it be too much to ask the AFA to give him a hand. As it turned out, Rodriguez only played the last 12 minutes of last Friday’s draw against Ecuador — some trial! —  and according to reports, Orion may not play at all (River Plate also lost two key players this week-end, although they are not in title contention.)

So what else is new?

Del Porto . . .

. . . Not that Martin Del Potro said he was not going to play in next year’s Davis Cup first round. We knew that all along, but at the same time he dispatched more offensive remarks against the Argentine Tennis Association’s president, Arturo Grimaldi and Davis Cup captain Martín Jaite for doing things wrong.

Yet Grimaldi is still grovelling at Del Potro’s feet to get him to play — at least for a possible relegation playoff if the first round tie against Italy is lost. What, already opening the umbrella?

Tennis exhibitions . . .

. . . . A local newspaper has calculated that it would cost £260 for cheap tickets to see the five tennis exhibitions with world stars in 17 days, just starting in Buenos Aires, Córdoba and La Plata while £2,000 would have to be spent by local fans to buy the expensive tickets. No doubt there will be some who will do it to see these players – who never come here for tournaments – just to knock a ball about for good money, but no prizes.

And Colon . . .

. . . Last Friday, this column mentioned football players being owed salaries at many clubs.

Now we find that at Santa Fe club Colón players say they are owed salaries for seven months and the last payment they got was with cheques which bounced.

This club should not really be playing in a professional league. They may have no mone but they have its a costly hooligan gang.

Last heard was that its president was negotiating to get a hooligan leader on the run free of a jail term, if caught. First of all, the president should be jailed for his connection with criminals.


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