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January 16, 2017
Friday, January 6, 2017

Super League complicates CONMEBOL calendar year plans

By Eric Weil / Sportsworld

Tevez becomes highest-paid player in world soccer

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has asked all national federations to hold their tournaments during the calender year. The Argentine Football Association (AFA), though still awaiting confirmation from the FIFA committee sent to intervene and take over the leadership of the organisation, is already preparing for next season’s local tournament. Currently the league has 30 teams, of which four will be relegated next year, according to a three-season average of their results, and only two will be promoted, leaving 28 teams for the moment.

But the position remains unclear. The second half of the current season is still yet to be played, so what happens with CONMEBOL’s orders to play championships in one calender year? If it happens, there would have to be another short transition tournament at the beginning of next year. And what happens to the Super League (which is just a name by the way, not a Super League). Lots of things still remain to be decided and arranged about its organisation... but of course, there is a possibility that it will be forgotten entirely.

SOUTH AMERICAN CUPS

The Libertadores and South American Cups will also be played over one calender season and under different formats.

The South American Cup will have a record 47 teams (not including Mexican teams) which will play a one round knock-out (home and away) format. Eventually, there will be 22 teams left, to which will be added 10 low-placed teams which will drop down from the Libertadores Cup, making 32 teams who will then play knock-out rounds — quarterfinals, semifinals and a final (also home and away).

In this way the South American Cup will be like a second division of the Libertadores Cup, just as the Europa League is a secondary tournament to the Champions League in Europe.

TV MONEY

As no agreement has been reached with Turner or Fox yet for the TV rights to broadcast local soccer matches, club delegates are now pressing the government to pay the money owed to the AFA or clubs when it decided to cancel the TV contract for Fútbol para todos (“Soccer For Everybody”), which ran until the end of the year. But the government says it has no budget for any further payments.

The AFA owes clubs 350 million pesos for TV rights. That is why Boca Juniors President Daniel Angelici has asked CONMEBOL to send the equivalent of the 20 million pesos it is owed for reaching the Libertadores Cup final directly to them, instead of the AFA where funds regularly disappear.

Soccer officials complain that government officials have called them thieves and said that some clubs should close. That some of them are thieves there is no doubt, but clubs would not have to close if they were properly run.

On the other hand, opinions from AFA often mention that the negotiations for TV rights should be based on the Spanish system, where each division negotiates its own TV rights. (Is AFA trying to get out of its obligation to pay the 350 million pesos it is supposed to owe clubs?)

TEVEZ THE RICHEST

Carlos Tevez once said that money is not everything and he enjoyed playing for Boca Juniors. But that was before Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua offered him a reported US$41 million a year for a two-year contract, which makes him the highest-paid player in the history of the game. Cristiano Ronaldo earns US$24.6 million and Lionel Messi US$21 million, according to details supplied from a marketing firm. (Such details are hard to confirm.)

GRONDONA BRIBED

Referees Union representative Guillermo Marconi recently revealed that in 2011 the long-term and now deceased president of AFA, Julio Grondona, asked for his help. It is not quite clear whether Grondona wanted to see River Plate relegated or whether it was the other way round. This may be difficult to prove or even investigate after all these years have passed, but there were a number of cases where penalties were not given against River Plate — aren’t there always? — and in the play-off match against Belgrano which sent them down referees from the other union (SADRA) officiated. But phone conversations involving Grondona have been tapped on other occasions and indicate he manipulated referees.

GETTING RID OF HOOLIGANS

In August, the government, guided by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, sent an anti-hooligan law to Congress which increases the punishment for hooligans which can now only result in effective prison sentences, while the government will control the lists of those to be denied entry into stadiums. Clubs which do not collaborate will have the number of spectators allowed into matches restricted.

We will see if the bill does not take too long to get through Congress without amendments and how it works out when the season restarts.

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