ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: One of the amazing happenings in Argentinian football this year was that 12,000 San Lorenzo fans travelled to Morocco to follow their team in the Club World Cup, although in their hearts they must have known they hardly had any chance of winning.
True, coach Edgardo Bauza had said: “We have a 100pc chance of beating Real Madrid.” But trying to inspire your players is one thing, talking nonsense is quite another.
Today, the cheque book dictates the game. Madrid have it, San Lorenzo do not. One Real player earns more and cost more than the whole San Lorenzo team together. So did they expect a miracle?
San Lorenzo lost only 2-0 so everyone went home happy … except the players. Some came off the field crying and apologised to the fans. But for what? They were never really outplayed and the excuse was that they lost through their own mistakes and those of their goalkeeper.
But part of a team’s superiority is to force their rivals into mistakes.
At least San Lorenzo say they are not losing money any more. As for their ambitious plan of building a new stadium to return to their old ground in Boedo, they may or may not make it, but insist that this will be a completely separate account with none of the money coming out of the club.
At Independiente it is a different story. Apart from having the largest debt of any football club, they say that they will finish their new stadium this summer.
More than half a team were sold in the past for funds to finish the stadium, so they said. Yet part of it is closed for safety reasons. The latest president, labour union leader Hugo Moyano, certainly means business, but this may not be the right way to save a club from ruin.
Independiente’s hooligan gang, closely linked to the committee, had an end-of-year barbecue in the stadium and a few days later the funeral of one of their former murdered gang leaders was held there.
Vice-president Noray Nakis said permission was never given for the barbecue. If so then sanctions are in order yet this is highly unlikely.
If a family of club members walked in to have their barbecue in the stadium, they would soon be shown the door.
# # # #