While many believe we are dealing with the biggest Argentine refereeing scandal of all time, reviewing history always puts things in their right place. And it is precisely the question of refereeing that has always been in the crosshairs of the football environment. Not only for mistakes in the game, but for the “sanctions” of convenience with the management on duty and the quarrels between different sides.
In this 2023 it was Diego Abal who was targeted and fired amid disputes with other referees, with Federico Beligoy and with the upper echelons of the AFA. But throughout history the list is huge.
nearly 100 years ago, Michael Barberaone of the most prestigious arbitrators of the 1920s and who sought to unite the peers, said, in 1928, regarding a possible solution to the arbitration question: “A month ago I asked the AAA not to nominate me games to lead until next season. But it wouldn’t be difficult for me to definitively walk away from the referee. It is not possible to continue like this, without guarantees of any kind, always propitious victims, not only of spectators and actors, but now also of advisers determined to inflict offenses on us, because nothing else can be described as the attitude taken when refusing to entertain official relations with our entity”.
In addition, Barbera listed five reasons why some referees did not want to join the Referee Association:
- For winning the sympathy of the councilors, thus wanting to be more papist than the pope.
- Because with that attitude, which is a humiliation like any other, they manage to be nominated for the final.
- Because many aspire in this way to be brought to Amsterdam, the work that some aces do in this sense being known.
- Because many see their chances of getting promoted by being sweet to the advisors.
- Because most of the referees fear, by joining our entity, losing the 10 or 20 pesos they earn per game.
The first cut of the AFA
The current Argentine Football Federation It was created on November 3, 1934 as a merger of the Amateur Association and the Argentine Football League. Among the many initial decisions, one was to put the magnifying glass on arbitration. Twenty-seven days later, on November 30, he decided to resign Higinio Vazquez AND Loved Andrade for the attitude he had in the Second Division match between La Paternal and Bella Vista. In 1935 they were also decommissioned Miguel Urretavizcaya (referee of El Porvenir-River) e Guglielmo Grotella (Boca-Gymnastics line). Of those decisions, many.
Another breaking point occurred in 1948. In 1947 the referees were grouped into three entities: the Argentine Association of Football Referees (not the current AAA), the Metropolitan Federation and the Federation of Referees. “Each of us looks at problems from our own angle and the consequences only divide us”he said in the magazine Court the referee Robert Fuster. To break with these unions and end suspicions of lack of training, the AFA hired 8 English referees who succeeded throughout the year. Those who ran in the First Division went to the Second Division.
Towards the end of the 60s, one of the most sensational cases was the arbitration of Guillermo Nimo in a triangular final between Vélez and River at the Gasómetro. The one with the hand of Gallo. Until that moment, Nimo was considered one of the most capable referees. Then, he was there for all to see.
However, Nimo managed the entire year of 1969. But in early 1970, knowing that he would be discharged for technical reasons, he resigned. So he appears in Bulletin n. 105 of 18 March 1970, under the heading Exclusions and promotions of arbitrators. Just below Nimo are casualties for technical reasons Camillo Brusca AND roberto crucis.
Until the end of the 80s, Eduardo Furlani, another former umpire, headed the AFA College of Referees. His successor was Jorge Enrique Romo, who was a seller of Acindar and entered the AFA because he met Julio Grondona in the famous Sarandí hardware store. Romo has never been a referee, but managed the College until 2009. He managed promotions and relegations at will, he moved from regulation to follow-up, always with a direct line to the president of the AFA.
When the referees grouped in the Argentine Association of Referees went on strike so as not to feel supported in their work, the strike was broken up by men from SADRA, Guillermo Marconi and names like Atilio Sanabria AND Daniel Gimenezthe latter protagonist of several scandals and ended up being expelled from the AFA.
He Sergeant Giménez finally resigned in September 2007 while serving a 90-day ban for his alarming performance in the match between St. Martin of St. John AND Hurricane, on 16 June 2007, in the final for the second promotion to the First Division. When he left, he accused Romo of being surrounded by sycophants and pimps, and pointed Juan Carlo Crespi AND Abel Gnecco.
Another referee who didn’t referee again was Gabriel Brazenas, after the meeting of the last date of the Clausura 2009 tournament between Vélez and Huracán at the José Amalfitani. The referee was accused of failing to sanction a foul by striker Joaquín Larrivey on goalkeeper Gastón Monzón, which led to the winning goal from Maxi Morales and the subsequent consecration of Ricardo Gareca’s team. It was his last game. First he went more than two years without directing because he failed the physical tests. In a report with Marcelo Benini and Tomás Labrit in 2006, in The newspaper from the Villa Urquiza neighborhood, Brazenas assured him Horace Elizondo it was one of Argentina’s worst ills, and he wondered why he continued to conduct John Paul Pompeii.
Just Elizondo, in 2017, was in charge of the National Arbitration Directorate, and under his mandate they were fired Charles Maglio, Gustavus Bassme and the instructors Alexander Toia AND Abel Gnecco. Maglio, at that moment, pointed to Elizondo and the Normalizing Commission: “It’s not authorized by FIFA to hire or fire people, because that was one of the agreements. If I wanted some legal trouble with the AFA… I’ve already set the number, everything. I will not make any claims. You never know the turns of life.”
Historically the referees had another business and worked in the AFA on annual contracts. This has allowed many of them to be discharged from one year to the next. Now the business is super professional and they have an addictive relationship with the entity. For this reason, the justification of Diego Abal’s dismissal as a VAR referee is, in theory, due to a gross error in his work and, moreover, because he is over the age of majority. But, as we know, behind the decision there are always the mazes of power.
I already said it Mariano Reinaformer judge and vice president of the Argentine Football Federation that year, in the magazine Home in August 1915. “One of the problems that currently worries the high authorities of our sport the most is that relating to the training of good referees, who at the same time have a perfect knowledge of the rules of the game, who carry within themselves sufficient morality. conscientiously conducting a football match. If we scroll through the list of arbiters, we will find only three or four good ones, the rest being, if not useless, at least untrustworthy. If a person plays for five or ten pesos, he can, for a larger sum, make this or that team win”.
Without VAR or with VAR, more than a century later, the story hasn’t changed much.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.