ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: While Argentina’s courts are investigating the flight of money out of the country during the last government, other courts are looking into what happed to money supposedly paid by the government to the local football federation (AFA).
All this, of course, comes at a time when several senior Argentinian marketing executives are contesting extradition applications from the United States in the FIGAGate corruption scandal.
When the last Futbol Para Todos contract was signed between the AFA and the previous Kirchner government to broacast local football free of charge to fans, President Cristina Kirchner said that any profit would be divided 50/50 between her government and the AFA – and that the AFA’s share would be divided among the clubs.
Officially there never was any profit because the only advertising came from official sources but whatever money was generated appears to hve disappeared, as usual, into the wrong pockets.
Local media have reported that poorly run local clubs now more than 1m pesos to the state in tax and social security debts while several people in the government and the AFA made good business out of it all.
Presently being investigated are AFA’s president Luis Segura as well as senior director such as Rafael Segura, Carlos Portell, José Lemme, Eduardo Spinosa and Miguel Silva as well as former government officials Aníbal Fernández, Jorge Capitanich, Juan Abal Medina, Julio De Vido and Futbol Para Todos coordinators Gabriel Mariotto and Pablo Paladino.
No mention yet even of the companies which produced the programmes.
The clubs received around 1,600 post-dated cheques from the AFA which they could reclaim only from oddly obscure financial institutions, which seemed to be connected with the programme at between a 40pc to 70pc discount.
What seems to have happened is that the government gave the money to the AFA which, instead of passing it on directly to clubs, gave them these cheques dated up to four months in advance on these specific – and minor – finance houses.
Meanwhile, the AFA invested the money to earn interest which was not available to the clubs when they claimed their monies.
The shadow of the late AFA president Julio Grondona hangs over all of this. He negotiated in 2009 the TV contract with the Kirchner government which runs until 2019 and which replaced the preious commercial deal wth TyC.
Now the Macri government, although having said the programme must pay for itself, has given the AFA 768m pesos as down payment until August. What happens then remains to be seen.