ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: The hooligans derided by Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernández (“Just some 10 to 15 in the stands”) and Senator Diana Conti (“A few kids”) were certainly busy last week.
There was fighting in the stands at Quilmes and Tigre which Fernandez, the Quilmes president, could surely see and must be able to count higher than 15; another at San Lorenzo threw a bottle at a Huracán official while, after the match, Huracán hooligans attacked San Lorenzo fans and at least one was in Mendoza to throw a stone at the Lanús masseur´s face who he needed an operation.
How could these 10 to 15 hooligans or just a few kids in the stands be in so many places at the same time?
Now will the San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz stadiums will be closed for permitting missile throwers? The Godoy Cruz stadium likely, but San Lorenzo are one of the big clubs and the Argentinian federation (AFA) always looks at the colours when sanctioning a club.
This is also a feature of the referees’ unofficial disciplinary code, it seems.
One former official has said that referees are told to look at a club’s colours before making decisions on the colour of cards.
When watching the Boca Juniors v Defensa y Justicia and San Lorenzo v Huracán games last weekend, this seemed to be evident. In the case of Boca, it was a linesman who charged an off-side he did not see which was the only way of stopping DyJ from taking a point away from the Boca.
At the moment, six leading clubs in the Copa Libertadores are distorting the league championship by fielding weak teams, or even whole reserve teams in league matches.
Boca Juniors seem to have easily the strongest playing staff which should help them to do well in cup and league, but they are not playing all that well and often do not find it easy to win.
In midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro they seem to have found an excellent replacement for Juan Roman Riquelme. He is not the same type of player but he fills the job adequately. He may be overplayed and Boca Juniors are beginning to have a lot of injuries and are already without midfielder Gago.
River Plate have it worse as they have to travel most out of the Argentine teams with journeys to Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. What is hard to understand is that several times the players are made to travel back to Argentina during most of the night right after the match which must take a lot out of them.
It is hard to believe that this is done to save paying hotel bill for another night because clubs waste such a lot of money elsewhere.
River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo also rightly says that the current league championship makes it more difficult to coach with the European transfer window in the middle of it, also cutting the Libertadores in half so that coaches could find forced team changes due to transfers. But then everybody finds something wrong with it, but it has to be played because deceased Julio Grondona said so.
Rosario Central, the only club with full points after five games, may not be among the favourites. but at the moment they have the advantage of not being cup-tied. They play an unusual 4-1-4-1 formation and shoot a lot at goal — statistics show an average of 14 per match — yet they also suffer from shortage of goals as they only scored eight in their 5 matches won.
The government has increased TV rights by 40pc — 1,400m pesos — under its ‘Free soccer for all’ programme for clubs which never seem to make ends meet. While Argentine President Cristina Kirchner wondered about that, she never ordered an exhaustive investigation.
Yet the distribution continues to be unfair. Retroactive from the beginning of 2015, Boca Juniors and River Plate will receive 5,2 million pesos per month, Racing, Independiente, San Lorenzo and Vélez Sarfield 3,9 million per month, the other 14 of last year’s first division clubs 2,9 monthly, but the 10 clubs added to this year’s first division only one million monthly — a clear indication that the AFA now wants them out of there quick. The remaining crumbs go to lower division clubs or who knows where.
This may not be like the 6,900 million euros contract the English Premier League has arranged for TV rights for three seasons, covering 504 matches, but that money comes from private enterprises for commercial reasons not from the government coffers for propaganda.
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