EX-ROAD SWEEPER TAKES OVER

Third-tier club chair­man Tapia is elected as Ar­gentina FA president

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE Ar­gen­tine FA, lacking proper lead­er­ship since 2015 and fear­ful their na­tional team might not reach the World Cup fi­nals with­out banned cap­tain Lionel Messi, elected a third-tier club chair­man and for­mer roadsweeper as their president on Wed­nes­day.

Clau­dio Tapia of Bar­ra­cas Cen­tral, who play in the Primera B Metropoli­tana di­vi­sion, was the sole can­di­date in the elec­tion but still needed the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity of del­e­gates, which he achieved by scoop­ing 40 of 43 votes cast.

He will serve a four-year term, but some of the power be­hind the scenes is ex­pected to be wielded by his deputy Daniel An­gelici, who is president of top flight Boca Ju­niors and was a key figure in pro­mot­ing Tapia’s can­di­dacy.

Tapia, who is also known as “Chiqui” (lit­tle one), said one of his first tasks would be to get Messi’s four-match sus­pen­sion re­duced and said it was im­per­a­tive ev­ery­one got be­hind be­lea­guered coach Edgardo Bauza.

Messi was sus­pended on Tues­day af­ter Fifa said he had “di­rected in­sult­ing words at an as­sis­tant ref­eree” dur­ing their 1-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing win over Chile on Thurs­day.

The match of­fi­cials did not in­clude the in­ci­dent in their re­ports but Fifa acted on video ev­i­dence and Messi missed Tues­day’s 2-0 de­feat to Bo­livia in La Paz.

“(We) will make the nec­es­sary ef­forts be­fore Fifa for the sanc­tion to be ... re­duced be­cause it is un­just,” Tapia said.

Messi will miss games away to Uruguay and at home to Peru and Venezuela, be­fore re­turn­ing for their fi­nal match in Ecuador in Oc­to­ber.

Tapia said it was cru­cial to give Bauza back­ing if he was to help Ar­gentina rise from fifth place in the South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign.

Only the top four teams qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for Rus­sia in 2018 while the fifth-placed team must go into an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off against a side from the Ocea­nia zone.

The AFA have been un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of a Fifa-ap­pointed Reg­u­lar­is­ing Com­mit­tee, headed by Ar­gen­tine Ar­mando Perez, since last June af­ter a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2015 ended in a 38-38 tie be­tween two can­di­dates when only 75 del­e­gates had a vote.

Tapia is the first man to win the AFA pres­i­dency in an elec­tion since Julio Gron­dona in 1979. Gron­dona ran the AFA as his per­sonal fief­dom for 35 years un­til his death in 2014.

The 49-year-old Tapia, who came to Buenos Aires from San Juan prov­ince with his fam­ily when he was a boy, spent nine years work­ing for the cap­i­tal’s refuse col­lec­tion com­pany while play­ing for Bar­ra­cas and be­came a trade union leader and president of his club aged 35.

Tapia has been close to the Ar­gentina team since 2015 and headed the del­e­ga­tion that took them to the Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario in the United States last year where they lost the fi­nal on penal­ties to Chile.

The AFA will hope to draw a line un­der the 35-year reign of Gron­dona, who died a month af­ter Ar­gentina reached the World Cup fi­nal in Brazil. Dur­ing his ten­ure the team also won the tro­phy in 1986 and reached the 1990 fi­nal.

AFP PIC

Newly-elected president of AFA Clau­dio Tapia (sec­ond from left) is pic­tured next to Boca Ju­niors’ president Daniel An­gelici (left), In­de­pen­di­ente’s president Hugo Moy­ano (sec­ond from right) and president of the Na­tional Se­lec­tions Com­mit­tee Marcelo Tinelli onWed­nes­day.

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