Each nation of the planet is dealing with the COVID-19 situation differently. In South America, the authorities are starting to take more definitive decisions regarding sports and one of the most shocking news of the week was the cancellation of the footballing season in Argentina.
ARGENTINA: WITHOUT FOOTBALL AND WITH NO FORECAST OF RETURN
Following a line that can compromise all football in South America, the Argentinians took a step forward and were the first ones to announce drastic measures for the season.
On an interview to the “Olé” newspaper, the AFA president Chiqui Tapia informed that the season of Argentinian football would be cancelled and that the official statement would come out during the week, as it happened. Still, the rules of the league were modified, to minimize the impacts of the decision.
The Argentinian champions were already known, when Boca Juniors overcame River Plate on the last round and won the trophy. However, the president stated that there won’t be any clubs relegated this season, and next season the competition will go from 24 to 28 participating clubs.
The relegations will return only in 2022, when the season that started in the middle of 2021 will end. The relegation system of Argentinian football is complex, because it utilizes an average of points from the domestic league of the last 3 years to define which team will get relegated to the 2nd division.
The remainder of the Argentinian season would still include 2 competitions. One of them was the Copa Argentina, that starts with a regional stage and would have his 2nd stage being played last month. The other would be the Copa de la Superliga, where the elite teams from the country would fight for the trophy, and it also only had 1 round played, with some clubs not even making their debut.
Since competitions were shut down, the teams that will play in the Copa Libertadores in 2021 are already set: Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing and Argentinos Juniors. Copa Argentina would give the country another spot, but since it won’t be played, the remaining spot will go to Vélez, due to their position on the standings.
THE DECISION THAT CAN PUT AN END TO THE COPA LIBERTADORES
It wasn’t a unanimous decision in Argentina, and we can’t say that it is a model that can be followed strictly by the neighbor countries. Firstly, because the season in Argentina is regulated by the European schedule, their national league had already ended and only the cups were left to be played.
The decision didn’t count with the support of every club. However, the most powerful ones were on the side of the FA, and therefore the cause gained strength. Boca Juniors, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Independiente and Racing were in favour, because their revenues don’t depend exclusively on television rights. The smaller clubs depend on those revenues and against it, according to local press.
This decision might have an impact on the Copa Libertadores 2020, because according to the AFA president, the competitions in the country would only return with crowd allowed on the stadiums. Obviously this decision can (and should) be reviewed, but it is a sign of how the local authorities are dealing with the subject.
They also finished in Argentina! https://t.co/L5jTUL9k2E
— Sportjudges (@SportJudges_com) April 29, 2020
Still, commercial flights to Argentina are cancelled until the beginning of September, and if this decision is maintained, it would prevent the continental competition from being played, with the arrival of foreigners to Argentinian soil being suspended as well as the clubs’ departures from the country.
It’s impossible to maintain the current format of the competition this way, since there were only 2 rounds from the group stage played, and if this decision is maintained until September, combined with the domestic leagues, there wouldn’t be enough available dates.
The clubs don’t want the competition to be cancelled yet, especially due to the money there is involved and the high ticket-selling revenues on games from the competition. But all of that will depend on the decision of the local authorities and the flexibilization of the arrivals and departures of international flights in the countries.
ONLY WITH A CROWD
This decision from the AFA president, of only returning football with fans in the stadiums, I believe is somewhat utopian right now. Argentina is the country with the best result so far in terms of controlling the pandemic, with less than 4000 confirmed cases and less than 200 confirmed deaths.
Argentinos usam Brasil como contraexemplo de combate à pandemia nas redes sociais. pic.twitter.com/DgNlF2zJ4G
— Träsel (@trasel) April 28, 2020
Still, allowing large gatherings of people is out of the question in the country. As for a flexibilization for sporting events without crowd on the 2nd semester, I believe it is more viable. The ball is now on the court of the presidents of the other federations and if they follow the same thought process of the Argentinian FA, we can forget about football on South America in 2020. We hope this is just a pessimistic forecast and that everything improves soon.