Gerardo “Tata” Martino tendered his resignation as coach of the Argentine football team today, making the institutional crisis the Argentine Football Association (AFA) is going through even worse than it already is. He made the decision following an apparently unfruitful meeting with one of AFA’s vice presidents, Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia, in which they were meant to find a way to assemble a team before the Olympic Games in August. Because in case you forgot, Argentina doesn’t have a full team to compete right now.
Earlier today, Gerardo Werthein, the chair of the Argentine Olympic Committee (COA), said that “there’s a 50 percent chance that the Argentine men’s national football team won’t take part in the Olympics” because of the lack of players. According to Werthein, it’s all the AFA’s fault: because the Olympic football tournament is not an official FIFA competition, Argentine clubs, which are part of the AFA, are not contractually obligated to lend their players to the national team. So they are usually reluctant to do so as it interrupts preseason. The AFA’s refusal to put pressure on the clubs to give up their players seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Martino.
Argentina has still not officially filled its football roster for the Río de Janeiro Olympics which start in exactly a month. Practice for the team was supposed to start yesterday but Martino had to postpone it a week because he barely had enough players to put a team on the pitch. Out of the 35 players he had called to start practice, only 12 would have been able to show up to practice. The Olympics require every team to present at least 18 players on their roster to compete. Now they need at least six more players, and one coach.