A tumultuous time in Uruguay leads to the resignation of the Uruguayan Football Association president Jose Luis Corbo.
By Brian Homewood
Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) president Jose Luis Corbo has resigned in the latest twist to the country’s football crisis. Corbo was said to be unhappy at a group of clubs – reportedly Liverpool, Danubio and Defensor Sporting – who he saw as trying to torpedo his administration.
“Being president of the AUF is the most complex, most difficult and most perverse task I have ever taken on in my life,” he said, without going into specific details. “My conscience tells me that this was not my place.”
Corbo quit after a tumultuous period in which the Uruguayan championship was suspended three times, one small club was kicked out of the competition for non-payments of debts while two big clubs escaped the same punishment for the same offence.
These came on top of existing problems which include chronic financial problems caused by the tiny internal market in the country of 3.3 million, run-down stadiums and the influence of the controversial Francisco Pasal’s Tenfield group, which owns television rights and acts as an agent for most of the players.
The championship was suspended for the first time in November after around 200 fans fought on the pitch after Danubio’s 1-0 win at home to Nacional at their tiny Jardines del Hipodromo stadium.
The tournament resumed two weeks later amid tighter security but was halted again on the eve of the last round of matches in the first stage of the competition, when four teams all had a chance of winning.
The decision came after the police refuse to allow Danubio to host Penarol in their stadium in one of the crucial games.
The game was eventually played in February, when, bizarrely, it kicked off the second half of the season. Danubio and Nacional both won their final games to force a play-off which Nacional won one week later.
There was more confusion before the second stage got under way when modest Villa Espanola were kicked out of the contest and relegated because they owed $50,000 to former players. The club protested and produced a cheque but to no avail.
Two weeks later, the players went on strike after it emerged that Nacional and Penarol owed much larger sums to former players – an apparent case of double standards. The strike was quickly resolved when the clubs agreed to cough up.
Nacional also appeared to have been favoured by a ruling during the first stage of the competition.
Their match against Villa Espanola had been called off and their opponents awarded a walkover win when they took the pitch two minutes after kick off time.
Although the referee clearly obeyed the rules, the AUF overturned the decision and ordered the match to be played. This happened three months later when Nacional’s 2-0 win sent them back to the top of the table.
Corbo appeared powerless to stop all of this and also suffered a political defeat at the South American Football Confederation when his appeal to allow Defensor Sporting to host Libertadores Cup matches in their own stadium was ignored, even though the ground meets has the 20,000 capacity required for the tournament.
Washington Rivero was handed the poisoned chalice for a provisional 30-day period while the AUF figured out what to do next.