Have a seat and stay calm: Gerardo Werthein, the chair of the Argentine Olympic Committee (COA), today said that “there’s a 50 percent chance that the Argentine men’s national football team won’t take part in the upcoming Olympic Games due to a lack of players.” And according to him, it’s all the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) fault.
Speaking to Radio Mitre, Werthein said: “AFA won’t step up, it’s not making any decisions, it’s mute. Football is a very important representation of the country, and the fact that today we can’t form a team to go compete in Río is an embarrassment.”
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 has been postponed a week because coach Gerardo Martino barely has enough players to put a team on the pitch. Out of the 35 players he 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.
Argentine football can’t catch a break. We thought things were starting to look a little brighter after various sources said that Lionel Messi probably wouldn’t retire from international football over the weekend, but today we are once again reminded that Argentine football is actually in a state of absolute chaos.
Gerardo Werthein. Photo via Infobae.
How is this AFA’s fault, then? since the Olympic football tournament is not an official FIFA competition, clubs are not contractually obligated to lend their players to the national team, so they are usually reluctant to do so as it interrupts the preseason. The COA says AFA, as the entity that groups local professional football and is in charge of all national teams, is not putting enough pressure on clubs to give up their players.
However, Werthein said he was confident he’ll be able to solve the issue and said he is currently working with Sports Secretary Carlos Mac Allister to do AFA’s job and try convince clubs to let their players fight for the gold next month: “Argentina will definitely present a team, something that wouldn’t happen if we left everything in AFA’s hands,” he said.
Veo con mucha preocupación el desinterés de AFA en presentar un gran equipo para los Juegos Olímpicos de Río 2016.
— Colo Mac Allister (@Colomac) 3 de julio de 2016
“I’m very worried about the lack of interest AFA is showing in presenting a great team for the Río 2016 Olympics.”
The Olympics’ football tournament will be played between August 3 and 19 and Argentina is supposed to face Portugal, Algeria and Honduras in the round robin.