Martino and staff quit amid turmoil in Argentina FA

Gerardo Martino blames the Argentina Football Association for its management disputes and the difficulties in getting the squad together in time for next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Gerardo Martino blames the Argentina Football Association for its management disputes and the difficulties in getting the squad together in time for next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BUENOS AIRES • Argentina's coach Gerardo Martino resigned on Tuesday, deepening the chaos in the frustrated national football squad.

The move comes after their star striker Lionel Messi quit and with the Olympics just one month away.

In a statement published by the Argentina Football Association (AFA), Martino said he and his coaching staff quit owing to management disputes within the organisation and difficulties in getting the Under-23 squad together in time for the Olympics.

The crisis in the national squad laid bare managerial squabbles in the AFA that are blamed for disrupting the organisation of Argentina's favourite sport.

Martino was due to start work with the Olympic squad on Monday but found he had only a dozen footballers after leading clubs like River Plate and Boca Juniors refused to release their players.

Key players such as Paulo Dybala of Juventus and Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan were also not available.

Martino had already suffered the disappointment of a second successive defeat on penalties by Chile in the final of the Copa America held in the United States.

Argentina's talismanic captain Messi quit the international stage after the June 26 loss.

The superstar complained before the final in New Jersey of a lack of AFA support for the squad and said he would go into detail afterwards, but has not spoken publicly since.

Star striker Sergio Aguero's father recently hinted that if Messi follows through with his decision, his son would retire too.

Martino, 53, leaves with a record of 19 wins, seven draws and three losses in his two years in charge.

He also coached Barcelona to second place in La Liga in 2013-14.

The AFA is in crisis and its management has been criticised by the likes of Argentina great Diego Maradona.

Before leaving for the Copa America, Martino said that the AFA owed him six months' pay.

Former AFA president Luis Segura also resigned last week amid a dispute over how the leagues should be organised.

Major clubs want to break away and form a "super league" to get bigger broadcasting revenues.

Gerardo Werthein, the president of the Argentinian Olympic Committee, warned on Tuesday that there was a "50 per cent chance" Argentina would miss the Olympic football competition, which runs from Aug 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Martino and staff quit amid turmoil in Argentina FA'. Print Edition | Subscribe