After what was a 79-day-long emotional roller coaster, we can safely say that the Argentine football tournament will get back underway tomorrow.
The footballers’ union and Argentine Football Association (AFA) representatives today reached an economic agreement regarding the last obstacle that prevented the ball from rolling: the debt owed by clubs to their players.
But, in line with the countless number of twists these negotiations have endured over the past two and a half months, today’s meeting almost ended with matters back at square one, while this morning it seemed like the only thing left to do was for both parties to shake hands at the Ministry of Labor.
This is how things played out over the course of the day:
In the morning, it seemed like the leader of the Footballers’ union and key-player throughout the saga, Sergio Marchi, was willing to take the AR $305 million offer tabled by AFA to cancel part of the debt clubs had with their players. Further payments would come as AFA got more money – including the AR $40 million garnered through the sale of Primera B and Nacional B audiovisual rights to media giants TRISA – once the tournament resumed.
As a result, it was thought the players’ strike would end and a return to action was thought imminent, beginning with Velez’ tie against Estudiantes tomorrow evening.
However, Clarín reports that the amount of debt that AFA promised to continue cancelling next week was in fact the same as that which first division clubs had already offered to loan to lower division sides to go back to playing as soon as possible. So, in an attempt to show strength before the union’s affiliates, Marchi refuted the proposal. However, after further negotiations — and a threat to stop recognizing it as an official organization from the Labor Ministry — the man at the centre of the footballers’ strike caved.
Furthermore, the head of AFA’s Normalizing Committee, Armando Pérez, promised Marchi that part of the money paid to the association from the company that wins the bid for the Argentine tournament’s TV rights will be used to cancel all debts with players and coaches. This matter is expected to be next on the agenda.
“With a better administration we will have better tournaments,” Marchi told press. Right now, we can consider it a success having a tournament at all.