Clearly seeing the new year as a chance for a new start, the AFA announced a personnel change on Monday that could have big implication for the Clausura. No, don’t get too excited – they’re not kicking Julio Grondona out. But Jorge Romo is on his way. ‘Who’s he?’ I hear you cry. The head of the Refereeing College, which chooses officials for domestic matches, that’s who. 2009 saw some controversial officiating stories, and it seems Don Julio’s had enough.
Romo was the man who appointed Gabriel Brazenas to referee Vélez Sársfield vs Huracán in the last round of the 2009 Torneo Clausura. That match was won by Vélez after a number of controversial decisions; there was a wrongly disallowed goal, two wrongly denied penalty appeals, a wrongly allowed winner, and the match arguably should have been called off following a hailstorm of near Biblical proportions which halted the first half, but was allowed to go ahead even though Huracán, seemingly under the impression it wouldn’t be going ahead, had returned to their dressing room.
Not only that, but during the Apertura Pablo Lunati – no stranger to controversy – had a nightmarish match whilst refereeing Newell’s Old Boys vs Arsenal (like many refs in Argentina, he was accused afterwards of favouring Arsenal, who were founded by AFA president Grondona). He was later due to referee Newell’s title rivals Banfield against Tigre, but after protests from Newell’s was replaced at the last minute by Rafael Furchi. All this as well as Cristian Faraoni’s claim during the Clausura that he’d been asked by an AFA official to fix a match have added up, it seems.
Roberto Lorenzo is likely to replace Romo as refereeing chief for the foreseeable future. Tellingly, this is in spite of the fact that, according to an AFA source talking to Olé, ‘he doesn’t know much’ about refereeing. But then, the AFA give every sign of not knowing much about football, a lot of the time…
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