Former Argentina football federation president Luis Segura has said that there are currently no candidates to replace Gerardo “Tata” Martino as national team coach and that the designated Olympic team coach for next month, Julio Olarticoechea, would not be assisted by Diego Maradona.
Martino resigned as head coach of Argentina on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the Albiceleste’s Copa America Centenario final loss on penalties to Chile and days before the Olympic team was to begin training.
Olarticoechea, currently the head coach of Argentina’s Under-20 team, will take charge of the squad for Rio amid the federation turmoil, which Martino cited as one of the reasons for his resignation.
On Monday, the president of the Argentine Olympic Committee, Gerardo Werthein, warned that there was a 50/50 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.
“There are no candidates to coach the national team,” Segura told Ole and other media outside the federation offices on Wednesday. “Maradona will not be Olarticoechea’s assistant.”
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.
Grondona’s son, Humberto Grondona, a former U-17 and U-20 coach, said Martino was right to resign.
“No one can work under these conditions and Martino was right to quit,” he said. “We all saw this coming — not only because the local clubs refused to release the players but also because of a whole lot of other factors that are not normal and can’t be normal because we do not have a [federation] president.
Humberto Grondona said he did not blame the clubs for the unwillingness to release the U-23 players for the Olympics, but said he understood their point of view.
“The club coaches never want their players to leave and join the national team,” he said.
He urged the clubs and fans to support Olarticoechea.
“We must help him because he is doing this alone,” Grondona said. “He is the only person who remained, the only one who had a contract. But if he goes it alone, he will be a target. If we don’t help him, he won’t make it out of the first round.”
Grondona said there was still time to restore credibility in the federation.
“When things are organised once again, things will fall into place because [the federation] has very good contracts,” he said. “Once we have a clear leader and a group of support behind him, everything will be back to normal and the sponsors will return.”
In June, Segura — a member of FIFA’s ruling council — was charged with fraud related to TV broadcasting rights.
“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.”