AFA sets alternative date for long-awaited presidential election
A date of 28 April has been set for new elections at the Argentinian Football Association, two months later than demanded by a representative assembly last week.
AFA is currently operating without a president after the appointment of the normalisation committee last June to resolve a crisis at the national association.
The election date was announced on the AFA’s website yesterday, as it emerged that AFIP, the Argentinian government’s federal association for public funds, had presented grievances against the committee to Fifa president Gianni Infantino.
The elections are subject to the approval of new statutes on 14 March, which must comply with those of Fifa and Conmebol, the South American confederation.
All candidates must pass an integrity test set by the international governing bodies, receive approval from an AFA ethics committee and present 15 candidates that will make up a new board, which is replacing the old 40-member executive committee.
Argentina, whose men’s team are currently ranked number one in the world, were facing suspension from international soccer if the AFA defied Fifa and proceeded with elections on 15 February.
That was the date set last week by an AFA extraordinary assembly comprising stakeholders from across Argentinian soccer.
The demands for elections were driven by clubs from Argentina’s lower-tier ‘Ascenso’ as they are the ones most affected by the vacuum at the AFA, and a consequent lack of funding. They have proposed Claudio Tapia, the president of third-division club Barracas Central, as a candidate for the presidency.
The AFA has been operating without a permanent president since Luis Segura was removed from the post last June and replaced by the normalisation committee, headed up by Armando Perez, the president of the Belgrano club.
It was appointed to oversee the national association, to ensure its rules met international requirements, to organise new elections by 30 June, 2017, and to help negotiate the sale of media rights.
However, the clubs have been critical of the slow progress and the failure of the committee to secure money they are owed by the government following the termination at the end of 2016 of the Fútbol para Todos’ (‘Football for All’) programme, under which all top-tier Primera Division matches were televised live on state television.
The lack of funding has raised doubts over whether the second half of the 2016-17 season will kick off as scheduled on 5 February.
Many of their grievances are shared by the AFIP, which in its complaint to Fifa, cited issues including the non-payment of rights fees from December, the failure to secure a lucrative new rights deal in negotiations with private broadcasters and delays to the election process.
A new presidential election had been called by the AFA after a farcical contest in December 2015 between Segura and Marco Tinelli, the vice-president of San Lorenzo, which ended in a 38-38 tie despite there being only 75 eligible voters.
The crisis comes as the AFA and the clubs seek a lucrative new TV rights deal. USA-based media giants Turner and Fox have offered an initial 2.2 billion pesos ($139 million) per year for the rights to the top flight, but this figure is considered insufficient by the clubs, and while initial talks with rival ESPN and its potential partner Mediapro, the Spanish rights agency, were described as “excellent,” these have yet to translate into a concrete bid.