January 16, 2018
Friday, May 12, 2017

FIFA slaps AFA with fine for racist chants

Captain Lionel Messi will return to the Argentina team, after having his suspension lifted.
Captain Lionel Messi will return to the Argentina team, after having his suspension lifted.
Captain Lionel Messi will return to the Argentina team, after having his suspension lifted.
By Eric Weil / Sportsworld

But maybe soccer’s governing body should pay for the mess they made with Messi

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has put their foot down hard, using a rule which punishes any form of discrimination. Two local referees in the Godoy Cruz v Defensa and Aldosivi v Huracan matches followed orders and stopped the games when they heard chants. In a match at Estudiantes de La Plata however, a Boca Juniors player heard racist chants against him but the referee didn’t stop the game.

In a match in the Italian League, meanwhile, Sulley Muntari complained to the referee that he heard racist chants aimed at him. The referee took no notice, the player walked off yet he was shown a yellow card. That is one of the stupid things which happens in soccer. The FIFA should fine the referee and annul the player’s yellow card.

But there are other stupid things too. The FIFA has fined the Argentine Football Association (AFA) 20,000 Swiss francs for racist chants by fans abusing Chile’s players during Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against the team at River Plate’s stadium, the Monumental. But the soccer’s governing body should forget that fine. (The AFA has not got the money to pay it anyway.) Brazil and Mexico were also fined for similar reasons.

In that match, Lionel Messi was suspended for supposedly insulting a linesman. The official did not lodge a complaint, nor did the referee put it in his official report. Yet FIFA saw images from TV where the player and the linesman were seen in an argument. Thus the FIFA broke its own rule, which does not yet permit use of TV to resolve doubts in soccer.

Messi was however suspended for four matches and could not play in Argentina’s next match against Bolivia, which was lost. That game proved to be the end for coach Edgardo Bauza. Now FIFA should pay 20,000 francs itself to the AFA as compensation. In other words that would make them all square.

The appeal against Messi’s suspension was successful and it was reduced by three matches, so he can now play in the next match, although he will probably not be called up for upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Singapore, in which only locally based players may be used.

For World Cup matches however Messi will be badly needed, despite the insistence that the national team should not rely on him too much. Statistics show that with Messi the team obtained 83 percent of its points. Without him, the team has won only seven out of 24 possible points, just 29 percent.


River Plate is holding onto fifth place — but only on goal difference over Racing Club — in the National A Division, searching for a place in next year’s Libertadores Cup. But as of last Monday they were due to play seven matches in 23 days — some in this year’s Libertadores. Will they be able to rest any players as they fight on two fronts?

Newell’s Old Boys are in financial difficulties. Money is owed to players and employees and now the latter have gone on strike because three of them have been dismissed for what they think are unjustified reasons. The players have received promises of payment which have not been kept and a few days ago they finally received paycheques for their February salaries, but they were found to be without funds. Yet the team, second four points behind Boca Juniors, is fighting on for the title and on Sunday they welcome Rosario Central in the local derby. This is another case of the incapable and corrupt members of club commitees.

Independiente, in ninth place with a match in hand, have been playing far better away than at home, which is unusual. Could it be that the players are bring criticised too much when playing at home instead of being cheered on by their fans and feeling at home?


Yet another mess by AFA. Referees for matches have been chosen out of a hat to avoid suspicion of match-fixing, but last week it decided that referees would be picked for each match. There was a lot of opposition from clubs, especially from those not close to AFA’s President Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia and those fighting relegation or promotion. They fear some “arrangements” have been made

Clubs have also complained about the continual changes to the times of matches, with some games starting so late that they finish after midnight. AFA blames it on the government’s sports security committee, which in turn blames it on the lack of available police officers considering the number of sporting events. If we finally tackled the problem of hooligans, all this would not be necessary.


River Plate are called the Millonarios although for a long time they were financially broke. Perhaps the name fits more now, because they are one of the few clubs not owing money to everyone. But the name originated in 1932 when they bought Bernabé Ferreyra, commonly known as La Fiera (“the beast”). He was an expensive purchase when other clubs were able to pay for only a few transfers.

At River Plate he became an idol and he scored plenty of goals from all angles, but he finished all his matches with his legs black and blue or even bloody because he was kicked so often as teams resorted to violence to force him off the pitch. In one match he noticed that a rival that was kicking him often had a medal hanging from his neck. Next time he came near him, Bernabé put his hand on his chest and shouted at him: “When you come to kick me at least take that medal off, you don’t deserve it.”

A journalist once asked Argentine striker Alfredo Di Stefano at what age he had retired from playing soccer. “At 40,” Alfredo said. “Why?” asked the journalist. “Because my daughters told me: ‘Papa, being partly bald and with short pants does not suit you any more.’”

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