Better late than never
Former Newells president may finally get his comeuppance for fradulent acts
With the average term of a Primera División coach most easily measured in months rather than years these days, how they must long for a grace period similar to that habitually granted by the Argentine justice system.
But in Rosario there are hopes that one of the most controversial soccer figures of the last decade will finally get his comeuppance and pay for his alleged crimes and misdealings.
Former Newell’s Old Boys president Eduardo López was finally called to trial last week for a variety of charges of fraudulent administration relating to his tenure at the club, ranging from misuse of funds to the stealing of information and irregularities in players’ transfers.
Incredibly the investigation took seven years to complete, and also includes his son, directors who worked under the disgraced ex-chief, former Rosario Central forward Luis Andreuchi and ex-youth team coordinator Sergio Almirón.
López was at the helm of the Lepra for 14 years, during which time, critics claim, he systematically stripped the club of assets and destroyed non-soccer activities fundamental for the community.
His alleged connivance with part of the Newell’s barra also helped spark one of the bloodiest internal conflicts in any Argentine club, fuelled by the added poison of the drug-cartels notoriously active in Rosario and which to date have claimed at least five lives: the latest of which was 25-year-old Mariano Larroca who was gunned down in June in a chilling mafia-style hit in the western zone of Rosario. That murder may have been in response to the death of former barrabrava chief Matías “Cuatrero” Franchetti, shot nine times just metres away from Gate 6 of Newell’s’ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa home.
Judicial inertia has already allowed the businessman to escape charges of tax evasion after nine years of standstill, and this sudden burst of activity is an encouraging step.
The courts in Santa Fe province may have taken their time but it is just possible that López will finally have to answer for his alleged crimes after so long evading justic.