Doubts Raised Over Participation of Argentina in Men’s Football Tournament at Rio 2016 as National Coach Resigns
Argentine Olympic Committee (COA) President Gerardo Werthein has claimed it is a “disgrace” that the country have been unable to call upon football players for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month, a situation which has led to national team coach Gerardo Martino announcing his resignation today.
Martino had led the Argentine team to the Copa América final in the past two years, losing both matches to Chile on penalties.
The latest defeat in New Jersey last month led to the international retirement of their captain Lionel Messi.
The 53-year-old Martino had been expected to lead the Argentina into the Olympic Games, but the coach has cited problems in the National Federation as a key reason for his departure.
“Due to the lack of clarity in the designation of new authorities of the Argentine Football Association and the serious drawbacks for forming the team that represents the country in the next Olympic Games, the coaching staff of the national team has decided to submit his resignation on the day of the date,” an Argentine Football Association (AFA) statement read.
The Argentina team qualified for Rio 2016 after triumphing at the 2015 South American Youth Championship, with hopes raised that they would be able to replicate their Olympic gold medal success at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
Since qualifying for the men’s tournament, the AFA has been plunged into chaos, however, after accusations of mismanagement of match broadcasting funds.
An investigation is set to investigate irregularities, worth millions of dollars, in connection with public money the AFA received for a six-year period between 2009 and 2015 in exchange for broadcasting rights of domestic games in the nation.
AFA President Luis Segura was removed from his position by FIFA last month, secretary Damian Dupiellet temporarily taking over in the role.
The crisis within the Federation in Argentina prompted FIFA to take over their day-to-day affairs after they conducted a visit to the country in tandem with the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) at the beginning of June.
The Olympic team has been affected by the crisis, with Werthein reportedly claiming that there was a 50 per cent chance that they would not play at Rio 2016.
The first week of training was delayed after only eight players were available to Martino.
“It is a disgrace that an Olympic double-medal-winning team are unable to call upon their players,” Werthein said, prior to Martino’s resignation.
“Martino has to wake up and realise that this can’t be downplayed.
“It would be good to start worrying about the sport.
“With this anarchy, this lack of leadership, what can we expect?”
It has been claimed that striker Paulo Dybala and defender Ramiro Funes Mori are among the players who will not compete at the Olympics after their club sides Juventus in Italy and Everton in England reportedly denied Argentina permission for them to compete.
Messi was only made available by Barcelona for the Copa América Centenario.
Argentina are due to feature in Group D along with Honduras, Algeria and Portugal, with hosts Brazil playing against South Africa, Iraq and Denmark in Group A.
Germany were placed in Group C along with Mexico, South Korea and Fiji, while Sweden will meet Colombia, Atlanta 1996 winners Nigeria and Japan in Group C.
Argentina are due to open their programme with a match against Portugal at Estádio Olímpico João Havelange in Rio de Janeiro on August 4, the day before the Opening Ceremony.
By Michael Pavitt
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz