ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Independiente are a club in crisis from which they cannot escape easily so the political opposition has offered a minor solution provided the president, Javier Cantero, resigns and brings forward elections to the end of June.

Some members are opposed and there was a rumour that the government has told Cantero to stay. Why? Because the ones trying to remove Cantero to take his place are led by people such as Hugo Moyano, the anti-government transport union leader and Pablo “Bebote” Alvarez, the leader of the club’s hooligan gang.

While Moyano says he has no time to be president, Alvarez wants to run for this top job.

Also, the group is connected with former president, Julio Comparada, who was responsible for most of Independiente’s problems and under whom the hooligan gang flourished.

This makes the whole issue even more political.

The group has promised to pay the current players the two months’ salary they are owed, provided Cantero leaves at the end of June. While Cantero agreed at the end of March, nothing was signed officially.

When Cantero took over, he swore he would get rid of the club’s hooligans.

That proved easier said than done, especially as he received no support from other clubs or the football association president Julio Grondona or even from some members of his own club committee.

Cantero cut off the hooligans´privileges they had under Comparada, so it was on the cards that they would make life difficult for him.

Certainly Cantero has made mistakes. So have practically all club presidents. But Cantero is taking the blame for problems mainly caused by Comparada and these are mainly financial.

The club’s debts have increased during Cantero’s presidency but that is because claims of money owed have been coming in from all sides – even for the new stadium, source of the biggest corruption, which was supposed to be built with money from the transfer of Sergio Aguero, but is still not finished.

For the fans, however, the main issue is that Independiente were relegated (for the first time) and are not now playing well enough to make a quick return.

If Independiente start winning and surging up the National B Division table, the problem would be over for the club but not for Cantero’s political opponents (including the hooligans).

Cantero said that in that case he would go. But he was not the main problem – which is where the money would come from.

Referees decide

Referees continue to decide the Argentinian championship, accidentally or on purpose.

For example:

Last week River Plate’s winner in the 2-1 classic against Boca Juniors followed a corner which was not a corner;

Lanús beat Rosario Central by the same score and Abreu’s equaliser was not allowed by the referee for an offside which was not offside; and

In the 2-2 draw between Atlético Rafaela and Racing, the referee failed to award an obvious penalty to Racing.

Referees often complain that they are being criticised more now because of TV which shows incidents more clearly than the referee’s human eye but these cases do not fall into this category.

They were all obvious to fans in the stadium … but not the referee. Also, none of the above mistakes would have been solved by goal-line technology which is the only technology so far permitted by FIFA after years of discussion.

In a championship with so few goals scored and only five points separating the top seven with eight matches to go, such mistakes can make all the difference to decide the title race and other placings.

The number of goals per match in the final championship is barely two per match, the lowest for years.


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