ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: An Argentinian court has ordered an inquiry into events which saw former world and South American champions Independiente relegated in last year’s ‘final championship.’
The scandal dates back 10 months when Quilmes beat Racing Club 1-0, a result which helped to relegate Independiente for the first time.
Questions were raised at the time about whether the game had been fixed Racing wanting to lose so as to push Avellaneda rivals Independiente down.
The match should have been investigated immediately so to do so 10 months later may prove useless.
Argentinian FA chief Julio Grondona, former Racing president Gastón Cogorno, current Quilmes president Deputy Aníbal Fernández and former Racing coach Luis Zubeldía will be among those called to testify.
The case raises the wider issue of why fans of one club hate another in their area to the point of wanting them relegated.
Estudiantes’ Sebastián Verón, who played for years in Europe, mentioned the pointless rivalry in La Plata between fans of his club and Gimnasia y Esgrima which, as in similar situations elsewhere, has produced fighting, injuries and even deaths.
Last weekend saw a controversy of a different sort, about refereeing.
Fernando Echenique awarded a goal to Atletico Belgrano in their 2-1 win over River Plate although the ball had apparently not crossed the line completely as the laws require.
The linesman did not raise his flag and did not say anything either. The referee later admitted the mistake and both he and the linesman have been dropped from the next round.
TV shots have also shown that River Plate goalkeeper stopped with high ball, possibly behind the goal line and then pulled it back to put it on the line as he fell.
Oal-line technology which is being used in this year’s World Cup and is already employed in England’s rich Premier League would have verified that.
But GLT is expensive and rarely used. It was tested in last year’s Confederations Cup and never needed.
Far more useful is the method favoured by the European federation (UEFA) of two additional assistants standing on the goal lines which would also help to spot fouls inside the penalty area and pushing and showing of opponents, especially at corners and which the match referee does not see.
Indeed, technology in general is conspicuous by its absence in local football.
Cameras directed at spectators to pick out trouble do not appear to be working properly whenever needed and the electronic AFAPlus ticket system to enter stadiums, which has been promised for the last seven years, is still not in use.
Fans law delay
The government wants the ban on fans of visiting teams lifted for next season, but in a meeting at the AFA this week, (in)security secretary Sergio Berni mentioned that would not be possible until 2015.
Football should always be played in front of fans of both teams but Berni has said that one of the conditions for a return of the status quo in Argentina is that the AFAPlus ticket system is up and working at all stadiums.
Officials in charge are blaming private firms involved and the Buenos Aires City government for not authorising certain works.
Blaming Buenos Aires Governor Mauricio Macri is a favourite pastime. But why not blame club officials who are not all that keen to get it started?
They do not want to keep their hooligans out and save money by not having to pay them travel expenses to go to away matches, They also save money by having to pay for less police to keep order and money seems to be more important to them than club members.
On the other hand, the that visiting fans are kept out is also fallacious.
All matches are attended by visiting fans: clubs sell them tickets as “neutrals” at much higher prices.
People even get in to see matches which, for disciplinary reasons, are supposed to be played behind “closed doors” which however are slightly open.
In the recent Quilmes v Boca Juniors match, for example, there were at least 250 spectators and it’s the same at other matches ordered to play without spectators.
The agreement to bring forward elections at Independiente to July in exchange for badly needed cash from an opposition group including union boss Hugo Moyano (£1m in five instalments) was finally agreed, but the formal signing was delayed.
Firstly, the present committee wanted grantees that the money had been deposited – always a thorny point. Then it wanted to stay until September, followed by differences over the actual election date.
Speculation is rife that the government had told current president Javier Cantero, to hang on, supposedly to keep out opposition CGT boss Moyano.