Argentina ends soccer season because of coronavirus

<p>
              Rafael Borre of Argentina's River Plate celebrates a goal scored by Milton Casco against Peru's Binacional during a Copa Libertadores Group D soccer match at the Antonio Vespucio Liberti stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The game was played in an empty, closed door stadium, as punishment for the violent incidents that happened during the 2018 Libertadores final against town rivals Boca Juniors. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
            </p>

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s soccer federation called an end to the league season on Tuesday, and said no teams will be relegated until at least 2022 because of the disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The AFA said in a statement that the decision affects all competitions it organizes, including the country’s first division.

AFA head Claudio Tapia also said the next season might not begin until January.

“This is a global crisis that needs us all to do something. Maybe the measures will be unpopular, but we have to take them,” Tapia told TNT Sports on Monday, after first announcing that the cancellation was coming.

In Argentina’s first divsion, the teams with the worst point average over the previous three seasons are relegated. One of the clubs that will benefit from the ruling is Gimnasia La Plata, coached by Diego Maradona.

Spots in the next Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana will be awarded based on the standings from March 15, when all soccer activity was suspended in the South American nation.

Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club and Argentinos Juniors have already secured their places in next year’s Copa Libertadores, but there were still two spots up for grabs.

The AFA also said in its statement that it is “indispensable” that fans are able to attend games when competitions return.

“We don’t know the science for sure for soccer to return, that decision is not for us,” Tapia said in his TV interview. “Everyone’s will is to play when we can, and if we have to play in January because we could not do that during this year, we will do that.”