In light of yesterday’s meeting regarding the debts adding up to AR $350 million owed to teams by the Argentinian Football Association, President of the Argentinian players’ union (Futbolistas Argentinos Agremiados) Sergio Marchi has conceded that without prompt action, “the championship cannot re-commence” in February.

Representatives from the Ministry of Labor, directors of the nation’s first division clubs and Marchi came together yesterday to discuss the financial problems the teams are having in the country’s top division.

It is a situation that today led Santa Fe based outfits Unión and Newell’s Old Boys, who have not been able to pay their players accordingly, to refuse to begin their pre-season training, which mounts growing pressure on the seemingly incompetent AFA.

The issue revolves around unpaid fees of around AR$350 million, gained from the FPT (Fútbol Para Todos) scheme (the government-sponsored program that broadcasts games on public TV channels) owed to Primera División clubs by the football governing body.

Just last week, the players’ union wrote to FIFA President Gianni Infantino warning of action, should AFA fail to reimburse clubs with the appropriate funds and, judging by their failure to do so, their incompetence has not wavered.

Sergio Marchi leaves the Ministry of Work yesterday
Sergio Marchi leaves the Ministry of Work yesterday

The debacle mirrors that which arose in September, when AFA failed to comply with an agreement made in August. The deal outlined that the governing body would distribute fees evenly according to TV coverage. However, it collapsed just weeks after, when Argentina’s second-tier clubs went on strike in light of AFA’s failure to comply. AFA, who were supposed to pay a sum of AR $1.5 million to each Naciónal B side, face a strikingly similar situation now, yet the consequences could undoubtedly be more embarrassing.

President of the players’ union Marchi described the resumption of play, due to start in the first week of February, as “unfeasible” as “many clubs are lacking in payment”, which could ultimately lead to more strikes, with Marchi stating that each club will now decide their own preseason plans, or lack thereof.

A meeting has been rescheduled for next week, where the issue will likely be resolved temporarily; however, this episode spells another notable embarrassment for Argentinian football and demonstrates the continuing corruption and ineptitude that lies at its core.