Copa Countdown: Argentina threatens pullout; Navas out

There's good news and bad news for fans hoping to see Lionel Messi play for Argentina at the Copa Centenario. The good news: Messi is doing better after suffering a painful back injury in Friday's friendly game against Honduras. The bad news: The Argentine federation (AFA) executive committee will meet Tuesday to decide whether to pull the national team out of the Copa Centenario.

Copa Centenario: TV Schedule

AFA general secretary Damian Dupelliet said his organization will meet to address to decision by the Argentine inspector general to call off the AFA's presidential election scheduled for June 30 and install two overseers to investigate the federation plagued by charges of corruption and financial problems.

Update: AFA president Luis Segura said on Tuesday Argentina wouldn't pull out, though its executive committee has yet to meet to decide.

Since the death of the notorious Julio Grondona, the AFA's president for 35 years, in 2014, the AFA has had an interim president, Luis Segura. A December election to name a permanent replacement underscored the farcical nature of Argentine soccer politics when Marcelo Tinelli and Segura finished in a 38-38 tie, an unusual outcome for an electorate with 75 voters.

The intervention of the Argentine government comes as two groups battle for control of the federation. One dubbed the "Grandes" includes the heads of Argentina's biggest clubs, Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing and San Lorenzo, and wants to create a Super League and control the revenues of the new league. The other group backed by lower division clubs wants to maintain the status quo.

Such a move by the government, which came on orders from federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria, puts the AFA in violation of FIFA rules against governmental interference -- and an immediate ban for its national teams from all international competitions -- and it has asked FIFA and Conmebol to intervene.

It is believed the Argentine government is negotiating with FIFA and Conmebol to form a "normalization committee" to take over the AFA as the first step to reorganize Argentine soccer. The same thing happened to the Honduras and El Salvador federations after the arrests of their respective presidents, Alfredo Hawit and Brayan Jimenez, in December. (One of the other Hondurans arrested in the FIFA scandals were former president Rafael Callejas.)

FIFA issues international bans for national teams all the time but the governmental disputes are usually settled quickly. (Kuwait, though, is exception, having been banned since October 2015 and forced to forfeit three World Cup 2018 qualifiers.)

The AFA is believed to be using the threat of using the nuclear option as a way to get the government off its back. The penalty for pulling out of the Copa Centenario would be severe: $5 million penalty for not showing along, along with bans from the next two Copa Americas.

COSTA RICA. In a huge blow to Costa Rica's chances, star keeper Keylor Navas has pulled out of the Copa Centenario because of a foot injury picked up playing with UEFA Champions League winner Real Madrid.

Navas, who led the Ticos to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, also missed the 2015 Gold Cup. To make matters worse, Esteban Alvarado, Navas' replacement at the Gold Cup, is also injured.

Saprissa goalkeeper Danny Carvajal will join Patrick Pemberton and Leonel Moreira as the Ticos' trio of keepers at the Copa Centenario. They also had to replace forward Ariel Rodriguez with uncapped 35-year-old Johnny Woodly.

Copa America replacements:

Brazil: Kaka (Orlando City SC) for Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich, GER)
Colombia: Yerry Mina (Santa Fe, COL) for Oscar Murillo (Pachuca, MEX)
Costa Rica: Danny Carvajal (Saprissa, CRC) for Keylor Navas (Real Madrid, ESP)
Costa Rica: Johnny Woodly (Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard, CHN) for Ariel Rodriguez (Bangkok Glass, THA)
Panama: Martin Gomez (San Francisco, PAN) for Ismael Diaz (Porto, POR)
Paraguay: Ivan Piris (Udinese, ITA) for Pablo Aguilar (Club America, MEX)
Paraguay: Victor Ayala (Lanus, ARG) for Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, ARG)
USA: Edgar Castillo (Monterrey, MEX) for Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt, GER)

5 comments about "Copa Countdown: Argentina threatens pullout; Navas out".
  1. Wooden Ships, May 31, 2016 at 12:18 p.m.

    A Super League? Doesn't Argentina have promotion-Relegation?

  2. Ric Fonseca, May 31, 2016 at 5:02 p.m.

    Wait a minute: Arg has 75 voters, yet there is a tie at 38-38?!?!? Let me see:
    38+38 = 76... sounds like good ole Chicago voting or the NYC Tammany Hall voting is in play here, or getting dead people to cast a ballot! This is riotous!!!

  3. Miguel Aviles, June 1, 2016 at 7:05 p.m.

    Yes Wooden Ships there is promotion-relegation in Argentina. But thanks to one of the late Julio Grondona's (ex Argentina FA president for life) final moves before his death, the league expanded from 20 to 30 teams (basically so Grondona could suck more TV money from the previous government's desire to put all league game son state run TV.) Now the league are slowly reducing the league back to 22 but it will take several years and the bigger clubs are fed up with it and are looking to run their own league separate from the AFA's control. Argentina also are transitioning to a European style August-May league calendar but in order to get there they ran a shortened "Transitional League" which ended this past Sunday. Here is more discussion on that transitional tourney if you are interested:

  4. Wooden Ships replied, June 1, 2016 at 8:35 p.m.

    Thanks Miguel. Maybe I'm naive, but wouldn't a super league do more harm to Argentina football long term than not?

  5. Miguel Aviles, June 1, 2016 at 8:51 p.m.

    Any new league would have to include promotion-relegation I would think. If not there is no way a majority of clubs in Argentina would approve of such a plan, right?

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