Angry fans are going ahead with a nationwide demonstration this evening to try to oust Argentine football chief Julio Grondona despite him scrapping plans for a controversial new league.
Grondona, 79, nicknamed The Godfather (‘El Padrino’), for his likeness to the movie mafia boss Don Corleone has become a hate figure among football supporters in Argentina who have accused him of trying to kill the nation’s favourite sport.
|‘Don Julio’ Grondona|
Just a couple of weeks after River Plate – one of the two biggest clubs in Argentina – was relegated from the top flight, Grondona announced his controversial and bizarre proposal to merge the top two divisions into one 38-team league for the 2012/13 season. The plans for a new tournament were met with allegations of corruption and Grondona putting money before the interests of all the clubs and fans.
Grondona, who is also FIFA senior vice-president, suggest last night that fans should be grateful for what they have. He said: “AFA is the tree that gives fruit and everyone throws stones.” FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s closest ally is no stranger to putting his foot in it. Grondona said he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup because “supporting the United States would have been like giving my vote for the English.” He also responded to corruption allegations made against FIFA made by the English FA by saying: “You can have my vote for England (to host the 2018 World Cup) if you return Las Malvinas that belong to Argentina.”
|‘Football for everyone’ (photo © BA Street Art)|
The government created Fútbol para Todos in 2009, taking away television rights from its bitter rival the Clarín Group and putting them in the hands of the state broadcaster. It too has also been mixed up in the controversy. AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis let slip: “This mess would not have happened if River was not relegated.”
So the football league will stay the same for the time being, meanwhile Grondona says he wants to press ahead with plans to ‘federalize’ football with coverage of live B Nacional matches also set to be taken away from the Clarín Group-owned TyC Sports channel and shown for free as part of Fútbol para Todos.
|‘Free football for everyone’ (photo © BA Street Art)|
There are no commercial breaks during live football matches shown on state TV in Argentina just government propaganda. Football in Argentina does really seem to the be opium of the people. Protests are planned at 7pm this evening outside the Argentine Football Association headquarters in Buenos Aires (Viamonte 1366) and in 10 other cities nationwide.