One of Argentina’s leading newspapers said Friday that Julio Grondona should resign as the president of the Argentine Football Association.
The newspaper La Nacion, in its main editorial, questioned the leadership of Grondona and said he should step down after acknowledging last week that he made sure there was no drug testing for a World Cup playoff in 1993 between Argentina and Australia.
Grondona has headed the AFA for 32 years and is the senior vice president of FIFA, the No. 2 position behind president Sepp Blatter.
Daniel Passarella, who coached Argentina and was a member of its World Cup winning teams in 1978 and 1986, called last month for Grondona to resign. Passarella is the president of Buenos Aires club River Plate.
”As the head of the leadership of the sport (in Argentina), his immediate exit would do football a great favor,” La Nacion wrote, ”and would be the first step toward a progressive renewal of the leadership with people under less scrutiny and more idealistic.”
The 79-year-old Grondona, known widely as ”Don Julio,” has made headlines recently.
Former national team coach Diego Maradona said almost two weeks ago that Grondona did away with drug testing during the 1993 game against Australia – which Argentina won – and that Argentine players were provided with ”speedy coffee” to help improve performance.
Grondona has acknowledged there were no drug tests, saying they were not required at the time. He has not responded to Maradona’s charges about players being supplied with stimulants.
”Who knows if incorrectly – out of fear that things might happen – I tried to do away with doping controls because players came that I don’t have in my country and one can’t know what they are taking – or just stopped taking,” Grondona said a week ago in an interview. He said he dropped the test to protect Maradona, who has had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Grondona and Maradona have been feuding since Grondona dismissed him as coach following last year’s World Cup. It was Grondona who hired Maradona.
”Grondona does not need to clarify anything,” the paper said. ”The president in charge of Argentina’s most popular sport has made arguments so fragile as to be inadmissible in justifying his against-the-rule tricks and conduct.”
On Wednesday, in a speech to the FIFA congress to defend Blatter, Grondona blamed a FIFA bribery scandal on the media in England. The scandal has seen executive committee members Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner provisionally suspended, accused of offering bribes.
”We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is busy lying rather than telling the truth,” Grondona said. He said England was ”where the insults and the problems come from.”
Grondona sits on FIFA’s executive committee and also chairs its finance committee.
At home, Grondona has been under fire for looking the other way at hooligan violence at Argentina club matches.
The non-profit group ”Let’s Save Football” has documented 13 football-related deaths in just over a year and has also repeatedly called for Grondona to step down.
Passarella has accused the AFA of enriching itself while leaving many clubs in debt. River Plate is reported to have debts of about $19 million.