Argentina coach Tata Martino quits post over federation chaos
Gerardo "Tata" Martino resigned as head coach of Argentina on Tuesday, less than two weeks after their Copa America final defeat on penalties to Chile and days before the nation's Olympic team was to begin training.
Martino took over the Albiceleste in 2014 after their loss to Germany at the World Cup and finished with a record of 19 wins, three losses and seven draws. Under his direction, the team lost to Chile at two straight Copa America competitions, both times in a shootout.
He previously coached Barcelona during the 2013-14 season.
According to ESPN sources, Martino spoke with Argentine Football Association vice president Claudio Tapia on Tuesday to voice his displeasure over the problems the federation has been having with putting together the national team for next month's Olympic tournament in Rio. It was at this meeting that Martino decided to quit.
His entire staff resigned with him, according to a statement on the AFA's official website, which said: "The national team's technical staff have decided to hand in their resignation on this day [Tuesday].
"Due to uncertainty over the designation of new authorities in the Argentine Football Association and the serious problems in putting together the team that will represent the country in the Olympic Games, the staff have chosen to resign."
The move comes on the heels of an announcement by Barcelona star Lionel Messi that he would retire from national team play after the Copa America loss.
Also on Monday, the father of Sergio "Kun" Aguero told radio station Paladar Rojo that if Messi leaves the team, his son will as well.
"If Leo goes, I believe Sergio will go also. They'll leave room for new players," Leonel del Castillo said. "I haven't spoken much with him, but he is upset, as all the other players are.
"We gave up a lot of advantage to Chile. They hear the criticism, and it hurts. The players had come from Europe, and they don't get paid anything for playing with the national team. As Messi said, it is a disaster."
Rumours swirled last week that the Argentine federation had postponed the start of Olympic team training in Buenos Aires because of difficulties getting clearance for the under-23 players headed to Rio de Janeiro.
On Monday, the president of the Argentine Olympic Committee, Gerardo Werthein, warned that there was a 50 percent chance that the country would not have a men's Olympic football team in Rio because the Argentina league clubs had failed to authorise the release of their players.
He also blasted the federation for abandoning the situation and criticised Martino for having "a passive attitude" toward the situation.
"What is happening has everything to do with what is going on with AFA, an entity in which there is no one who can make decisions," Werthein told Radio Mitre. "They have not spoken with us in 20 months, they are completely silent about the Olympic team despite being two-time champions, and they have done absolutely nothing to call up the players.
The federation is currently under FIFA investigation and has been in turmoil since former FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona died in 2014. FIFA stepped in last month and took control from the current leadership and named an emergency panel to manage its affairs.
FIFA has said that a so-called "normalisation committee" of up to seven members "will be in charge of running the daily affairs" of the Argentine body and that elections must be organised by July 2017.
In June, president Luis Segura -- a member of FIFA's ruling council -- was charged with fraud related to TV broadcasting rights.
Segura is also under a probe by Argentina's courts. Judge Maria Servini de Cubria is investigating irregularities worth millions of dollars in public funds paid to the AFA from 2009 to 2015 in exchange for broadcasting rights of first- and second-division matches.
Servini de Cubria has also charged three high-ranking public officials of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's administration, which ran from 2007 to 2015.
The AFA ended its broadcasting agreement with Argentina's most powerful media group in 2009 and struck a deal with the government instead for $41 million. Currently, the contract is worth $116 million.
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