Top newspaper asks Grondona to resign

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.