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Argentina Considers an Alternative Stadium for the “Monumental” After Maradona’s Complains

By Dialogo
June 18, 2009

Argentina requested FIFA fit out Rosario Central Stadium as an alternative to "Monumental" stadium for the 2010 South Africa World Cup’s qualifying round for the next match, in which Argentina will compete against Brazil, as officially announced on Wednesday. The decision was made public after controversy arose between the River Plate team, owner of the Monumental, and the national team, Diego Maradona, over the conditions of the field and the installations where Argentina plays locally. "Yes, the Rosario Central Stadium was requested (of FIFA). Currently, it offers better conditions regarding infrastructure,” Julio Grondona, the President of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), confirmed. Maradona had bitterly complained about the conditions of Monumental’s field before his team defeated Colombia (1-0) on June 6, and he had described it as a shocking embarrassment, a "potrero" (piece of land improvised as field) and a 'picadero' (where horses are trained.) In response to these statements, River Plate sent a letter of complains to the AFA this week characterizing Maradona’s expressions as “rude and excessive.” "There is no doubt that it will result in a loss of money (if we change venue for a smaller place), but the points we need (for the classification) are more valuable than money,” Grondona, who has just been re-elected as one of FIFA’s vice presidents, added. In September Argentina will risk a great deal of its luck, urgently needed to gain points when confronting qualifying leaders Brazil (27) on the 15th. "I cannot say if it is possible to play well or not (at River Stadium). The mistake was not having an alternative. If the river (de la Plata) rises, it will flood (the Monumental), so where would we play? We need an alternative,” said Grondona. In the standings behind the Brazilians, Chile (26), Paraguay (24), Argentina (22), Ecuador (20), Uruguay (18), Colombia (17), Venezuela (17), Bolivia (12) and Peru (7) are positioned. "The coach has every right to express his opinion, but River Plate felt offended, since the team made a huge effort to improve the field and the conditions were good,” complained Julio Macchi, River’s vice-president. The Monumental’s field, with a capacity of 50,000 people, had been damaged during a concert by the popular local rock band “Los Piojos.” Macchi said that "River considers the terms in which Maradona spoke to be insulting, and Grondona apologized to River, so that’s enough," bringing the controversy to an end. However, River’s counterattack went further, since they inquired of the AFA whether Maradona had undergone the obligatory psychophysical tests before hiring him as coach, as well as other contractual requirements. “We should have this information as supportive documentation in case a club member requests it,” said Macchi. Since the mid-70s the official headquarters of the national team has been Monumental stadium, where they became World Cup champions when the country hoested the tournament in 1978. Their only loss in the South American qualifying rounds was their humiliating and heavy 5-0 defeat by Colombia on September 5, 1993, on their way to the United States World Cup 1994. An antecedent of official matches between Argentina and Brazil in the "Gigante de Arroyito,” Rosario Central’s headquarters, 300 km north of Buenos Aires, with a capacity of 35,000 spectators, was the goalless draw in the second phase of Argentina’s World Cup 1978.
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