The mess that Argentine football finds itself in was obvious long before Julio Olarticoechea led the squad to Rio de Janiero for the Olympic games and if his side’s early exit from the tournament were not evidence enough, the 57-year-old has expressed just how much work the Argentine Football Association (AFA) must do to get things back on track.
It would be grossly unfair to blame Olarticoechea for Argentina’s failure in Rio after the the 1986 World Cup winner was parachuted in less than a month before the games following Gerardo Martino’s resignation.
To a backdrop of AFA in-fighting and club’s refusing players permission to participate, the odds were stacked against Vasco from the start despite still travelling with a highly talented group.
“We are not used to getting eliminated this early in a tournament. When I first came in I said I wouldn’t make any excuses. The team which went to the Olympics is a good one. The truth is that the smaller countries have grown a lot. This whole situation should serve as an example for the directors (at the AFA) to understand that there’s a lot of work to do for a long time,” the coach explained on Radio Continental.
“The directors don’t see the reality, they need to stop fighting and think seriously that what they do is bad for football.
“If things are not done as they should be, we will continue to drift, without a work flow or leadership in the youth divisions. Players will keep coming but not like Messi or Maradona,” warned Olarticoechea.
These systemic problems within the AFA that go back years have drained the financial resources and now only serve to exacerbate issues as the organisation found out in their search for a new coach but also not being able to pay salaries.
Olarticoechea had previously said that the youth sides were left hungry at the AFA training facilities as there wasn’t even the money to buy spaghetti but he went on to explain that he and his assistant have not been paid.
“Caldera, my assistant, does a thousand things. He earns 18,000 pesos per month and for three month’s now he hasn’t been paid.
“Yesterday, I called my wife and told her to ask money from my daughter. I spoke to the directors that we needed money and I’m now taking money from my daughter. It’s something to cry about but it’s reality.”
It is indeed very sad that such incompetence has led Argentine football to this point. The country is still producing the talent but they are failing to receive the adequate environment to develop.
No one watching the under-23 side crash out of the Olympics would suggest that they do not care and there is little blame that can be attributed to the players or Olarticoechea.
“To all those who say that we only think about money…You’re all wrong. When you reach this level, money isn’t of interest, the shirt yes. When you lose, you cry a lot. I know how every player is feeling right now.”
The only hope from this is that this latest failure will prompt much needed change within the AFA.