Two months have passed since Hernán Lewin’s resignation as President of Primera División’s Club Atlético Temperley, and, as you’d expect, his reflections on the experience don’t shed much positivity on an already dire situation.
A decision he chose to take after receiving threats from club ultras after a match against Independiente earlier in the season, Lewin gave a scathing report yesterday in an interview with radio station La Red, describing the near-impossible conditions directors are expected to work under, amidst corruption and the control and pressure of las barras, as well as the old enemy themselves, AFA.
Describing the influence held by leading hooligans over club politics, Lewin said “fighting them is a losing battle…it’s impossible to do something against them. Something needs to be done from the bottom up, unknown to the leaders, because if you’re confronting them and the directors have done everything they can, you remain responsible…and you’ll face the consequences for having gone against [them].”
“When I entered the club and was new to football, there were situations that generated fear… Club directors are isolated, and from above there’s no serious work being done that protects them.”
“It becomes unbearable for someone that wants to do things the right way, and since you can’t fight the whole system, you have to choose between doing things as you can or stepping aside.”
“In my case, I said “I’m not going to put up with this, to keep going along with people who want to travel with the circus. I’m out.”
Lewin went on to discuss how motives change depending on a side’s stature, saying “the bigger the club, the bigger the business… When you become a Primera División Club, the aspirations change… it’s no longer managed by fans, but by people who want to do business.”
He complained of funds wasted by Argentine clubs in signing players and paying agents who do “virtually nothing”, money which he says would be better served in reducing debts owed to AFA.
As expected, criticism was also levelled at the association for their lack of support for promoted clubs: “When we were playing in the second division, money taken from home games went towards works and paying employees… Now, Temperley loses between one and two-hundred thousand pesos per game from paying for police operatives that often aren’t even present. This is where the state needs to get involved to help subsidise costs for clubs.”
Commenting on AFA’s Board of Intervention, effectively the league’s ‘directors’, Lewin said “There’s been 30 years of AFA’s ‘happy-go-lucky’ leadership, and today there are clubs with directors that are doing things well, but are paying the price for the previous decades under AFA Presidents.”
Asked how to go about tackling the issue, Lewin suggested that clubs take collective action to combat the threat of repercussions from certain groups: “…this has to be from above and simultaneous in all clubs…the reality is, you can’t govern the club if you’ve disagreed with them in some way.”
“Clubs need serious and responsible leadership for 10 or 20 years, with a head that protects those below, and assembles a squad according to the budget available, so that the club is financially stabilised.”
“Argentine football today has such a greed that you can be champions, but then lose 4 or 5 games and there’s an almost infernal pressure on you. That makes it very difficult for club directors to last many years.”
A circus indeed.