What began with threats of legal action by Sevilla against AFA over its intention to poach the club’s coach Jorge Sampaoli and bring it to lead the national team, now seems to be out of the Andalucians’ hands.
Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Sampaoli expressed his right to trigger a clause that would allow him to leave the club in order to manage Argentina’s national side, following the sacking of Edgardo Bauza, despite having two years remaining on his contract.
“If a player can leave by way of a clause (in a contract), a coach has that right as well”, said the 57 year-old, suggesting that his exit from the Estadio Ramón Sanchez Pizjuan is now just a matter of time. This is the first time that Sampaoli publicly expresses any type of interest in coaching the national team and hints an intention to leave his current post.
Sevilla, however, responded strongly to the news that recently-elected AFA President Claudio `Chiqui`Tapia was to travel to Spain for meetings with Sampaoli and Lionel Messi, among others. In a firm statement released online, the club called AFA`s approach “disrespectful” and said that they “would not hesitate in using legal options” in response to such “lack of respect”.
In spite of their retaliation, it is thought Tapia met with Sampaoli`s representative Fernando Baredes this week, a move which has left many associated with the club with a growing sense of resentment against the coach who has led them to their highest ever points count in La Liga (Spain’s league).
The meeting was refuted by both Tapia and Sampaoli, who claimed that “nobody speaks on his [Sampaoli’s] behalf”. That has not stopped the disdain with which the rumors have been met with, however:
“The forms with which Sampaoli and the AFA are carrying out this issue does not sit well with the club and the fans are quite irritated,” said Pablo Blanco, coordinator of the Sevilla FC youth squad and current spokesman for the club’s president, “Pepe” Castro.
Sampaoli however insists that his focus remains on leading Sevilla to the Champions League next season.
“My current situation is linked with the club. I can`t be thinking of the future with all that is being played here in Sevilla,” he said.
“I sat down with the president and the vice president to confirm that we’re only thinking in the present.”
It remains to be seen whether Sampaoli is as keen for AFA as they are for him. What we can be certain of, however, is AFA`s ability to turn any situation they find themselves in into unwavering mess.