Argentinian Football Association – Confronts Possible Disaffiliation

Argentinian Football Association – Confronts Possible Disaffiliation

Nicolás Miremont –

A month ago, FutebolCidade released an article concerning the difficult situation that the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) was going through; the article explained how the Super League threatened to end the AFA’s hegemony over the field of football management and broadcasting.

Since then, the situation has become less stable: The AFA has expressed its desire to part ways with the national government. Many institutions have lost power and credibility and the AFA is one of them. Now everyone wants to take advantage of the uncertainty because controlling the world of football is a main priority for anyone who wants to succeed in politics in Argentina.

The Desired Argentinian Football Association Throne

Since November 2015, when the elections were postponed due to possible fraud, the AFA presidency has been vacant and its functions are currently being performed by vice president Luis Segura, who has already declared that he is not going to be a candidate for the position.

Now the presidency is disputed between two groups: One group is the people who support the current executive committee—Hugo Moyano (the president of Independiente de Avellaneda) and Claudio Tapia (AFA’s 2nd vice president). They are opposed by a coalition formed by the rest of the big five clubs—Daniel Angelici (Boca Juniors, and the main proponent of the Super League), Rodolfo D’Onofrio (River Plate), Matías Lammens (San Lorenzo), Víctor Blanco (Racing) and Marcelo Tinelli.

AFA building – “The AFA headquarters in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires”

AFA building – “The AFA headquarters in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires”

Moyano and Tapia are known to be supporters of the federalization—the 30 team league—of football, while the group which features Angelici and the rest believes that it is time to change the league format.

Recently, on May 30, a third group seems to have emerged, however, when the General Justice Inspection (IGJ) decided to partially intervene at the AFA. The judge, who is in charge of the Fútbol Para Todos case, María Servini de Cubría, not only postponed the election due to “several irregularities regarding its administration”, but also designated a Normalizing Commission.

This action, of course, caused great disruption within the world of football in Argentina. Hugo Moyano reacted by threatening to cancel football until further notice, but that did not happen. Something that could happen, though, is the AFA could be disaffiliated by FIFA, since they had not endorsed the government intervention.

Gianni Infantino himself has stated that FIFA would not allow any sort of intervention as that would be “an invitation to the other 208 governments to interfere in the movements of football.

Argentina in a Nutshell – Change the Situation and Confuse the Public

Most people would expect us, the Argentinians, to know all the ins and outs of this rollercoaster, but the truth is that we don’t. Our country is so rotten that the legal system will never be able to expose the full extent of the incidents of fraud and criminal acts that were committed in the last 10 years. Our money and local football were used to create a massive propaganda apparatus, which allowed individuals to steal everything they could while they gave the poor free football instead of a future for their children.

Infantino – FIFA President Gianni Infantino is against the interference of the government in football affairs - Image by Piotr Drabik

Infantino – FIFA President Gianni Infantino is against the interference of the government in football affairs – Image by Piotr Drabik

Since the new government has taken charge, the battle over the control of football hasn’t stopped. It has been very difficult to keep up with all of the emerging information, although the following points should help you understand the whole situation:

  • Argentina is going through a changing process, a conversion. The new management has promised to clean up the economy as well as to identify the provenance and location of the previous government’s issued capital.
  • The AFA is no longer funded by the government, and the leaders of the football clubs that support Mauricio Macri’s party Cambiemos (Change) are looking forward to taking control of football. One of their new proposals is the creation of a Super League in order to bring professionalism and transparency to the sport.
  • During the last six months, many cases of diversion of funds and unlawful association have been reported that involve groups of people directly linked to the last government
  • The IGJ decided to create a Normalizing Commission and postpone the elections until someone explains where all those hundreds of millions of pesos have gone, and also took action to stop Damián Dupiellet, FIFA’s designated temporary AFA president, by making him sign a letter in which he committed himself to not taking charge.
  • FIFA, which is obviously incensed after this episode, saw it as a misuse of justice and threatened the AFA with severe sanctions. One of the threatened sanctions is our disaffiliation from the Football Federation.

Who is Damián Dupiellet and why is he FIFA’s Chosen One?

Although he is not the president yet, courtesy of the IGJ, Damián Dupiellet is the person designated by FIFA to replace Luis Segura. June 24, 2016 was his first day at the AFA as executive secretary and his mission was to carry on with the work that has already been done by the Normalizing Commission in order to get everything set before arranging new elections.

Damián Dupiellet is now in charge of the FIFA’s Normalizing Commission

Damián Dupiellet is now in charge of the FIFA’s Normalizing Commission

Mr. Dupiellet has raised eyebrows after some of his Twitter account posts were published—posts that hailed the former controversial AFA president, Humberto Grondona, as “the best ever”, and claimed that “there won’t be any leader like him ever again”. He maintains a friendship with Claudio Tapia, and is also against Marcelo Tinelli’s party. The posts indicate Mr. Dupiellet’s political orientation, and have raised suspicions about the job he has been asked to carry out. One of the strongest accusations coming from the opposition is that he is only here to cover up FIFA’s involvement in several corruption cases.

Back to Square one From July Onwards

Luis Segura knows there is not much to be done, since the association is in serious debt, has no money, and has to answer a lot of questions about the location of the funds provided for Fútbol Para Todos.

In fact, as I’m sitting here writing this, the man has just resigned after a bomb threat was reported to the authorities at the AFA building (fortunately nothing happened). When leaving the building he told the press: “Two words: I’m not talking to you.” And later on he expressed, almost in relief: “I’m never coming back…”

This was the stepping-stone for Dupiellet and his Commission, which will be in charge for at least a year. This sequence of events is no coincidence. Some individuals are doing everything they can to hide the truth, but this effort is currently slipping through their fingers.

In the next few days, most of the issues that have yet to be clarified will be discussed—starting on Thursday June 30, when the IGJ, Judge María Servini de Cubría, overseers of the AFA and the government, club leaders and representatives from FIFA will meet.

The list of main topics will include the Super League and the possible sanctions, although the latter seems to be a bit less likely to happen with every passing hour.

Being disaffiliated would be devastating. The national team could be eliminated from the World Cup’s qualifiers which, basically means no Russia 2018 for Argentina; and Boca Juniors is also at risk of being eliminated from the Copa Libertadores just ten days away from their first semifinal against the tournament’s underdogs Independiente del Valle (Ecuador).

Corruption is a ghost that has been haunting our organizations for decades, and that is why many Argentines don’t trust the Argentinian Football Association anymore. Many say that the end is nigh for Grondona’s legacy of decadence but, in the end, the side with the support of the government is going to win. This sort of wind of change has been blowing for quite a long time now, and things are improving. But we’ve already heard that story a hundred times. Let’s hope this time it will be true.

Nicolás Miremont is a born and raised Boca Juniors fan, but his heart has a special place for Manchester United, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Dynamo Kiev. Miremont loves to support the underdogs. Miremont enjoys watching smaller competitions especially those from Eastern Europe, but also his native Argentina. Follow him on Twitter @Miremont_Nico