“The departure wasn’t for sporting reasons, AFA hurt his dignity”: Tata Martino’s assistant lifts the lid

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It was common knowledge that the Argentine Football Association (AFA) had failed to pay Gerardo Martino when the 54-year-old was still in charge of the national side but his former assistant Jorge Pautasso has now revealed that not only are they still owed money but why Tata left when he did.

Gerardo Martino was perhaps never Argentina’s first-choice but ultimately two Copa América final defeats was his legacy.

“We failed to win two Copa Américas,” Pautasso explained.

“History is written by those who win and for those who lose, excuses are not so valid. Martino’s exit was not for sporting reasons but because they [AFA executives] hurt his dignity.” 

Martino, who is now in charge of MLS side Atlanta United, kept quiet over his departure but at a time when he was attempting to prepare for the Olympics, there was a sense that not everyone within the AFA was pulling in the same direction.

“After the famous 38-38 vote in the AFA election, there were no more leaders, except for Chiqui Tapia (Barracas Central president and AFA committee member), who stood by us at all times, through good and bad.

“All the others disappeared and did not keep their word regarding the under-23 side and having players for the Olympics.”

Certainly from the outside, there appeared some truth in this and it was no coincidence that prior to the squad travelling to Rio de Janeiro, Martino was gone. The AFA’s financial issues were clear when selecting a replacement and Pautasso insists that he and Martino have still not been paid all that they are due.

“They still have a significant debt with us, it still exists. Some member of the [FIFA appointed] normalisation committee said that they have paid us everything. Totally untrue,” Pautasso affirmed.

So, while reports regarding the money appear to have some truth behind them, one rumour that Pautasso was quick to dispel was that of Lionel Messi picking the team.

“No, no, that’s a myth. Leo was always dedicated to play and what is proposed, he does everything well.”

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