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Swine flu plays havoc with Copa Libertadores

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Tim Vickery | 07:00 UK time, Monday, 4 May 2009

The group phase of the Copa Libertadores has come to an end - and two of the results have left the South American Federation with a problem to solve.

By the skin of their teeth, two Mexican sides made it through to the knockout stages.

Chivas Guadalajara needed a draw away to Everton of Chile. They were hanging on grimly at the end, but got the 1-1 they needed.

The qualification of San Luis was more improbable. They had to win away to group winners Libertad of Paraguay, hope that Universitario of Peru lost their game, and make up a difference of four goals.

The matches were played simultaneously, and though they were beaten 2-0 in Argentina, the Peruvians went into stoppage time considering themselves safe. San Luis were ahead, but only by one goal. The Mexicans' second, decisive strike came right on the final whistle...

In theory the Mexican teams are at home this week when the knock out stage gets under way. San Luis take on Nacional of Uruguay while Chivas face Brazil's Sao Paulo. The games were scheduled for Wednesday. But the question was where?
The swine flu outbreak has ruled out Mexico.

Last Thursday the website of the South American federation (Comnebol) announced they would take place in Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

This was after consultation with the local FA - but without first gaining the agreement of the local authorities.

Fearing proliferation of the disease, Bogota council blocked the move, and the website announcement was quietly removed.

Friday was a busy day as a replacement was sought. Chile was lined up - it had accepted the Chivas team for last week's group game, surely it could be relied upon once more? No, it couldn't. Local authorities there too blocked the move.

With South American enjoying a holiday weekend, Conmebol found itself with no option - it postponed the games involving the Mexican sides for one week to give time for a solution to be found.Peru's San Martin's Martin Arzuaga shakes off a Boca Juniors defender

This puts a strain on the calendar. Unlike the Champions League, the Libertadores is crammed into a few months.

This year's is due to end on 8 July. Prolonging it could cause problems in some countries with players' holidays or contracts.

There is a three week gap between the quarter and the semi finals at the start of June, when a pause is taken for two rounds of World Cup qualification.

Perhaps time could be made up there, though it might be awkward for those players who also figure for their national teams.

One idea which has been floated is that the two Mexican sides should meet each other at this stage.

This, however, interferes with the integrity of the competition. The idea of the draw is that at this point the eight group winners meet the eight runners up.

Chivas and San Luis both came second. Nacional and Sao Paulo won their groups, and would justifiably feel aggrieved at having to face each other so early in the competition.

The two are also unlikely to be pleased with another idea in circulation - that their games against the Mexicans take place in the United States. This is a vast journey from Uruguay and the south east of Brazil.

It could be, then , that Nacional and Sao Paulo end up staging both legs at home.

A possible alternative is that the Mexicans hold their matches in Paraguay, where Conmebol is based and where it should be able to apply some pressure on the local authorities to go along with the plan.

A solution will need to be found soon, and while the Mexicans and their opponents wait, the action goes on without them. - and also without the teams from Bolivia and Colombia, all of whom were eliminated in the group phase.

In the case of Bolivia this is no surprise - it is the ninth consecutive year they have suffered a whitewash.

But this is the first time it has happened to Colombia since 1984. This year's wipeout is a blow for a country which is traditionally strong in the competition, and has produced one winner and three semi finalists in the current decade.

There is happier news for Peru. Tiny San Martin, featured in last week's column, are the first club from the country to make the knockout rounds for five years.

A long term trend in the Libertadores - of Brazil replacing Argentina as the dominant force - seems to showing up strongly. All five Brazilian clubs made it through, while three from Argentina have fallen by the wayside, leaving Boca Juniors and Estudiantes to carry the fight.

These, though, are preliminary observations, and it would be dangerous to attach too much importance to them.

In my time following the competition the campaign that most sticks in the mind is Boca Juniors' in 2003.

They had not looked particularly impressive in the group games, and were beaten at home by Paysandu of Brazil in the first leg of the next round. But then they caught fire.

They found the right position for Carlos Tevez - up in the forward line rather than as a deeper lying Riquelme replacement - and they won the return match, plus both legs of the quarters, semi and the final.

Maybe something similar will happen this year - a team will suddenly strike form.

Whatever happens, when the history of the 50th Libertadores is written, swine flu, San Martin, Colombian wipeout and all, it will concentrate on the knockout matches rather than the group games.


Comments on this piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:



Q) Regarding Liverpool's left back Insua, I have read in your blog that he didn't do too well in the Under 20s Tournament, but he has definitely had a very good season for Liverpool and established himself in the first team squad ahead of a full Italian international in Dossena. What is the competition like for the left back position in the Argentina squad, and if he continues to establish himself as a regular starter for Liverpool can he force his way in the main Argentina squad for the World Cup?
Matthew Hockey

A) Left back is a bit of a problem position. Maradona has gone with Emiliano Papa of Velez, though I don't really see him as a long term solution. Heinze has played there in the past, but though Maradona likes him he doesn't think of him as a left back. There's Fabian Monzon from the Olympic team - Insua must surely regret not getting picked for that one.

Indeed, Insua struggled when he captained the side in the South American Under-20 Championships. Liverpool fans might be surprised to know that he started at left back, and was them switched to centre back - a role I'd previously see him play for Argentina at Under-20 level in the previous Under-20 tournament in early 2007. This versatility might work in his favour, especially if Maradona perseveres with a back three, a system he used in the World Cup qualifier at home to Venezuela - Insua wouldn't be the wing back, but might come into contention as the left sided centre back.
He shouldn't lack for allies. Maradona made a big point of convincing Insua's team-mate Javier Mascherano to be the team captain. That should mean that Insua is at least on the radar screen.


Q) I read a question on your column three or four months ago about the Brazilian striker Keirrison. I have been following his progress since he went to Palmeiras and I have to say he is looking like an amazing prospect - 19 goals in 23 games is some return, and commentators seem to be gushing about him.
You had said that Palmeiras (from Coritiba) was the right move for him as he was too raw. I was just wondering if you think he is any closer or more adapted to a move to Europe now, which is surely going to take place with rumours of Barcelona watching him in recent games, with figures of up to £20m being quoted.
Darren McKillion

A) Some commentators might be gushing, but the Palmeiras fans are not totally convinced. He's scored plenty of goals, but hasn't done much in the big games. I don't think it's a case of him 'bottling' it - I think it comes down to the fact that he is still raw. He's a terrific right footed finisher - but other aspects of his game need a lot of improvement. He needs to work on his left foot and become more confident taking chances on it first time, and he must improve his link play. There are too many times when he is going missing. I hope he doesn't go in this year's transfer window. This time next year I expect him to be better equipped for a move.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Always with new material Mr. Vickery, well done! Yes I did wonder how Mexico were going to play their WCQ with this swine flu going on. And I mean it is getting worse. My cousin who is a ER doctor in Los Angeles told me that it has been very busy due to the worries and panic from people who have gone to Mexico and come back. So I wonder how some teams will go into Azteca stadium and play. I would say play behind closed doors and get those traveling teams right out. Or I think they should find a solution just maybe play the games in Los Angeles or Texas. This so called "swine flu" does not seem it is slowing down. So do you think FIFA or the Mexican Fed will do something about this? BTW I am sure you saw Palermo 200th goal for Boca, what a way to do it ay! Speaking of my national team(Argentina) what is the deal with Pipita Higuain not getting a call up from El Pibe? He has been on fire this season for Madrid. Rumors have it that players from Madrid such as Gago and Heinze are not fans of his and do not want him there!

  • Comment number 2.

    Tim as you said in an earlier blog Brazilian teams would dominate Liberatores amd they have. All 5 Brazilian teams have made it through and just 2 teams from Argentina, have made it to the last 16 knockout stage.

    What a goal from no 10 Xavier from Palmeiras against Colo-Colo what did the Setanta commentator say Colo- Colo have lost their fizz. Match was looking like it was heading towards a draw,when up pops Xavier with a 35 yard shot in at top right hand corner. As good as any Cristian Ronaldo goal,congrats to Martin Palermo for scoring his 200th goal for Boca Juniors.

    Even our boy Carlos Vela had to undergo quarantine last Monday as he had friends and relatives visit from Mexico the previous week.SARS in 2003 FIFA changed the venue of Women's World Cup from China to US.Has not CONCACAF cancelled the rest of U17 tournament.











  • Comment number 3.

    Tim:

    A long time ago there was a lot of fuss made over a certain Fernando Cavenaghi. I know he's at Bordeaux now, but where does he figure with regards to the national team?

    Also, how are River Plate doing these days? I remember when they had the 'three magicians' (Aimar, Angel, Saviola)...

  • Comment number 4.

    Great work Tom thanks for the info on Keirrison.

    Quick question on the progress on Hernanes from Sao Paulo recently saw him in The Times 100 list of most promising players at number one, what are the chances of a move to Europe?

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim,

    Although the Libertadores is crammed into a short schedule and presents problems like the ones you write about - do you feel that this actually makes it more exciting or do you feel that there isn't enough time for reflection and build up throughout the tournament?

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com

  • Comment number 6.

    Tim,

    Can you comment on Sport Club Recife?
    They have been a bit of a surprise in the last 2 years.
    What do you think about some of their revelations like Ciro and Kassio?
    Are there any new players coming up from their youth ranks?
    How far do you think they will go in the Libertadores?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Tim,

    Another informative and excellent blog.
    How many match postponements are the Mexicans allowed before the tournament decides to give their opponents a bye into the next round?
    And with San Martin, as they are an unknown quantity, I'd put a fiver on for them to progress to the quarters.

    Keep up the good work, all the best,
    MOP13
    http://manonplatform13.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Tim.

    Of course playing in Mexico could be risky, and Sao Paulo and Nacional won't take the trip.But I believe, specially Sao Paulo is (as usually) taking advantadge of the fact to play both legs home.

    Los angeles is to far for them, but tt is only 3 more hours flying. And there would be many mexican imigrants supporting Chivas, what would be much more fair. Yet, tow other brazilian cities offered their stadiums to host the game, but the two clubs are only keen to host both games home.

    If so, why don't CONMEBOL schedule 'Sao Paulo x Chivas' in Montevideo and 'San Luis x Nacional' in Sao Paulo?

    Two home legs seem a bit unfare to me.

    Which is you opinion on that?

  • Comment number 9.

    CONMEBOL is also to blame for this fixture havoc. If the group stages were played as in the Champions' League, in other words, all teams having their first match in the same week, all having the second match in the same week, and so on, instead of that chaos which caused that some teams played their first match (I think it was Gremio) on the same week other teams were playing their THIRD match, the group stage would have ended earlier, and more weeks would be available...
    but... CONMEBOL (or FOX Sports? or both?) think this format is better, probably because it allows all people with cable tv to watch very exciting matches between a Bolivian and a Peruvian team, for example, surely all South Americans stop whatever they are doing to watch those matches, right?

    Changing subject, the other Uruguayan team who has reached the round of 16, Defensor, deserves some mention. A small team watched every weekend by less than 5000 people, depending on players' sales to exist, unlike most Uruguayan clubs, they try not to sell their players to agents, and for Copa Libertadores matches, they decided to sell tickets at less than USD 0.5 and to donate the match income to a hospital.

    Funnily, they also have a fixture havoc this week, a historical concert is taking place this week in Estadio Centenario, so it's not clear which stadium they will use, their own stadium Luis Franzini is clearly inadequate, taking into account that thousands of Boca fans will come from Buenos Aires...

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, I would be interested as to whether the Arsenal midfielder Denilson has come up on the radar for the national team at all. He has had a bit of critisism this season for his performances as a covering midfielder and playmaker, which is essentially a new role for him. He began his career at the club looking like a deputy for Fabregas, with great temperament and good technical ability. I wonder if this season he has filled in for Flamini out of necessity, or if this will be his future position. It has certainly been season full of experience for a young player, although it looks like the number of games is catching up with him now. You often talk about weakness in the brazilian national teams central midfield. If Lucas of Liverpool is on the fringes, i can't see that Denilson is too far away from a call up. What do you think?

  • Comment number 11.

    I have to say I'm surprised at no mention for the Chivas player who decided to unload the contents of his nose on one of the Everton players after being called "lepers" for most of the game. the logic of "Well if you keep saying I have swine flu well now you do too) seemed to be the idea. Worth looking out on Youtube (type Everton Chivas flu).

    On another note. I was wondering if there have been any changes implemented in Uruguayan/Argentinian football since March when there were a few high profile incidents (two Boca fans being shot) and the fighting between Penarol and Defensor fans outside the Centenario. It seems that every year alot gets promised and yet nothing changes

  • Comment number 12.

    7 - not convinced you'll get a return on that fiver - San Martin are up against Gremio, who are looking ominously strong.

  • Comment number 13.


    8 - excellent suggestion - uruguay stage the Mexicans match v Sao paulo, Brazil does likewise against nacional - eureka it's the solution!

  • Comment number 14.


    9 - trouble is that TV money keeps the whole show afloat - that's how the tournament has been expanded - and I don't really see how you can blame this for the swine flu fixture pile up

  • Comment number 15.

    Tim, what I meant is that if the group stages took fewer weeks, an unexpected problem (like the swine flu) would bring a fixture pile up, but as big as the one being created (potential clashes with WCQ, etc.).

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi, really like the regular articles on south american football, and the Up all Night show.

    I have a question about River Plate, for anyone that can answer it!

    If I have a favourite team from South America it is River, for the reason that when Channel 5 used to first show the Argentine league it was that team that briefly had the 'fantastic 4' of aimar/saviola/angel and the first time i saw them was a game that had Ortega's return 'debut' from Italy. It was the most cavalier, fluent football I'd seen in years. Now I understand that economic realities mean that players are sold very quickly if they impress, so to have a team like that is always likely to be a fleeting pleasure.

    But is there something institutionally wrong there that Boca and now San Lorenzo seem so much more consistent now? Are the young players not coming through anymore? They seem to lurch from one disaster to the next, last weeks Libertadore defeat looked a horror show from the highlights I saw.

  • Comment number 17.

    4. At 11:04am on 04 May 2009, SeamyWham wrote:

    Great work Tom thanks for the info on Keirrison.

    Sorry for calling you Tom, Tim. :D

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim, just wanted to say you write an interesting blog that is always one of the highlights of my Mondays. I've recently made a point of watching Ronaldo's comeback at Corinthians, and have seen him score several great goals. I wanted to ask about another player on that team, the right back Alessandro. He seems to get forward very well, and possess good technical abilitites. In the games I have seen, he hasn't been challenged one-on-one too much, but I am wondering what you know about his defensive abilities, and about his potential for a return to Europe?

  • Comment number 19.

    Doctorbuzzard: River is an interesting case, they have a few players on large contracts, such as Ahumada, Gallardo and Fabbiani, alongside a lot of players who will be on very decent money for being squad players.


    Apparently they pay their squad in US Dollars, which has meant their wage bill has soared this year in real terms without actually giving any more out to the players in dollars. Also there have been quite a few accusations levelled against the president for stealing from the club. A lot of people don't like Mauricio Macri as a person, but one thing he did for Boca was put them on an excellent footing financially. They pay players in pesos, they are on the stock market, and they take big advantage of the tourist market in the city. For many years, that hasn't been followed up at River.

    The youth production line hasn't quite matched up to that of their city rivals either. In the last 3 years Boca have sold Gago, Banega, Cata Diaz, Jesus Datolo and more besides, the money from which has gone partly on youth development, look at the likes of Forlin, Roncaglia and Mouche coming through their system now. And the other part has allowed them to bring back players like Riquelme and Pato Abbondanzieri on good wages.

    River haven't had those big sales to help keep them afloat. Buonanotte was the big hope a little while ago, but he has gone off the boil and appears too selfish now. Their defence has been shaky and the new coach, Brian May lookalike Nestor Gorosito hasn't been able to get them firing on all cylinders just yet.

  • Comment number 20.

    The Confederations Cup in S.Africa is barely six weeks away with the likes of Brazil,Spain,Italy and USA among the teams competing.

    Will the Swine flu get worse,remember SARS in 2003 the Women's World Cup was moved from China to USA.Have FIFA contingency plans in case of a their is a pandemic. or are they waiting to see if the flu virus goes into hibernation?

    Chile did not give Chivas a very warm welcome the whole plane ware subjected to a fever test and thorough medical questionnaire.Everton said they would thoroughly disenfect the away dressing room.


    S.Africa have done well with the World Cup preparations and the Confederations Cup is a good 'dress rehersal'for it. Love the blog and WFPI anyone interested we even have a facebook site dediacated to El Legindinho ,we leave random questions for other fans to answer.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Tim,

    I am writing a blog about English footballers currently playing abroad: http://lesrosbifs.wordpress.com

    I was wondering if there are any English players you know of playing league football in any of the South American or Central American leagues? I have found out about one in Belize - but that is about it, and information is thin on the ground!

    Gav

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi thegillsguvenor I know of an English manager.Gary Stempel manages Panama and is 51 born in East Fincheley. I have a facebook friend David who use to live in El Salvador and told me of him.

    I also have a facebook friend Rupert Fryer who has an English blog on S.American football.www.southamericanfootball.co.uk. He might be of some help.

  • Comment number 23.

    20 - It makes sense, the whole Mexico is worried about the flu and letting their people travel without any testing would just help the virus to spread itself.

    It is also ridiculous that a Chivas player faked symptoms to scare a Everton player.

    As a south-american, I believe it would be at least "good" to see the mexicans teams out of the competition, I've never seen their participation with good eyes to start with. But I want to see it on the pitch.

  • Comment number 24.

    I could not think of his name but remembered Colin Clarke former N.Ireland international played for QPR.Portsmouth several S.E.English clubs. He manages Puerto Rico.

    23 of course Chivas and the rest of the plane had to be tested,complaint was they were treated as pariahs their are ways of treating people with some consideration.Yes a Chivas player Hector Reynoso made an apology for coughing and spluttering in Everton player Sebastian Penco's face an overeaction he says.

  • Comment number 25.

    Tim is still continuing his absurd notion that Brasil is displaceing Argentina as the Libertadores leader when all the stats point otherwise.i wont argue that in 09 its been agood year for Argentina when our league is wonderfully competitive which is focusing all clubs except Boca on the Clausura.then the real reason for the apparent Brasilian dominance appears whilst the Argentine clubs play a dog fight in the Worlds most competitive league the Brasilians are playing meaningless state championships.Now that the Brasileiro begins next week their advantage disapears and the Argentine will play on an equal footing

  • Comment number 26.

    19

    The part about tourism and Boca is spot on. I am brazilian, and all my friends who went to Buenos Aires made a visit to the Bombonera, and if I ever go to the city i will certainly do the same. None of them went to the Monumental de Nuñes.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim,

    Sack the photo editor!

    That in no way shape or form is a Boca shirt - it's a Gallina shirt!

  • Comment number 28.

    I concurr with 27!

    Definitely not a Boca shirt....shocking!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    I appreciate entirely that moving a game to America (presumably California) for a team from Brazil or Uruguay is a hefty journey but it's not quite (I could be about to expose gross geographical ignorance) akin to flying to the other side of the world.

    When you think of the potential spectacle it could be, the likelihood of increased advertising and spectator revenue and such like it doesn't seem hugely inconvenient to make the necessary preparation for a match in the US. Get the players to get some extra sleep before the flight and fly out a day early for relaxation.

    You've already mentioned in previous blog's Tim that South American internal flights aren't exactly cheap so I doubt arranging a team flight to LA would be massively more expensive.

    Considering the massive Latin American community in California and Texas Tim why haven't the powers that be in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia (to name a few) been tempted to stage competitive games in the US before? You have said that many games arent hugely attended so I doubt fans would be too up in arms about losing a home fixture each year and the time zones are perfectly compatible for TV schedules Seems like a golden opportunity for South American football to tap a new audience reserve that European football has so far been largely unable to entice due to time zone differences.

  • Comment number 31.

    25 - No way. The only Argentinian club to do something in the past few years is Boca Juniors. Even with the State championships or Brasileirao we were dominating the Libertadores in quantity. We had clubs on the finals in the last 5 years(2004 being the last year a brazilian weren't in the final) and it haven't been the same club, Internacional, Sao Paulo, Fluminense, Atletico Paranaense, Santos, Palmeiras, even Sao Caetano. All of them reached the final recently.

    This year shows it too, only Boca and Estudiantes got past the group phase.

    Maybe you meant that the statistics show that Boca is the only half-decent club in Argentina, and I'll agree.

  • Comment number 32.

    25 - a post indicative of the perils of nationalism - a powerful force that can blind you to reality and make you see only what you want to see.

    'The absurd notion that Brazil is displacing Argentina as the Libertadores leader.' Well, since River Plate last reached the fnal in 96, Boca are the only Argentine side to have done so - on a number of occasions. In that time, 10 Brazilian clubs have reached the final.

    This year - when all 5 Brazilian clubs have gone through and 3 Argentine teams are already eliminated - how on earth do the Brazilian teams gain an advantage from playing domestically in their state competitions? And the Argentine league as the most competitive in the world? Please - last time I was there every serious journo I spoke to was in despair about the level on show. There was an excellent interview over the weekend with former Lanus coach Ramon Cabrera giving his impressions of how much the Argentine championship has fallen in quality.

    For the record, I'd like to state once ore that I have no pro-Brazil bias in making this assertion - none whatsoever. My personal taste in football is that the Argentine style, well played, is the best to wtch in the world. Angel Cappa is carrying the flag at Huracan at the moment, so there's still hope.

  • Comment number 33.

    Sadly, Tim is right about the standard of the Argentine league. I'm currently living in Buenos Aires, and the only reason the league is so competitive is that no team has been able to grasp the bull by the horns and take control of it. Velez seem to have the best chance, they have a good squad, are gelling well and haven't had continental distractions. However, even they are finding it a little difficult to pull away from the pack.

    When Racing, the club I support, can notch up a 7 match unbeaten streak, scoring more than one goal in only one of those games, then there really isn't much more to say. Racing succeed by suffocating the opposition's play, and hoping for a goal at the other. When managers like Caruso Lombardi and Mostaza Merlo get a good name out of being so defensive, there isn't much hope for the rest of the league. Of course a tight defence is desirable, but a lot of games here seem to be decided by which team makes the fewest errors or which covers up their errors best.

    I cannot think of a single player in Argentina right now who you could take to a decent European team and they would do well. Not Riquelme, Abbondanzieri, Sand, Buonanotte, Bergessio, Zucculini, De Federico, Pastore or anyone else you care to mention. The first two are past their prime, and horribly lacking in some fitness for Riquelme, the rest either are too wasteful or too one-dimensional to be good in Europe as they are now. That's not to say they won't improve, but as they are now, they wouldn't do.

    Cappa at Huracan is doing a good job at Huracan, and their style of play is pleasing on the eye, De Federico has something a little special about him in how he carries the ball, he needs to work on the final product though if he wants to be a big player.

  • Comment number 34.

    Tim,
    Post 25 did ask for your reply, but I understand his reluctance to accept that Argentina is losing power in the world football ranks. Sometimes is hard to accept the truth and I sympathise with him regarding the sorry state of argentinian football. I really wish they can recover quickly and go back to challenge Brazil in equal terms and help to bring the South American football to a higher level.

    Not sure if you have talked about this guy before. My dad watched the Paulista final last weekend and mentioned that Santos had a new Robinho. Could you talk a bit about Neymar? Is he going to be the next big thing?

    Regards

  • Comment number 35.

    OneDayRemains,

    thanks so much for your answer. with the age at which the most promising argentine players are being picked up by european teams, your argument about competitiveness not necessarily equating to quality is undeniable.

    its great for european fans to be able to see virtually all the best south american players performing in our leagues every weekend. all the same, from my point of view, as someone who used to look forward to world cups in the 1980's because we would see great players we'd never heard of, i miss that sense of surprise.

    still, who am i to begrudge those players moving and securing themselves financially, whatever the consequences to the domestic leagues in brazil and argentina and elsewhere.

  • Comment number 36.

    Chivas and San Luis have been withdrawn by Mexico Football Authority, so looks like Nacional of Uruguay and Sao Paulo of Brazil will go unopposed into the quater final.

    Why did Boca not play there game? Look forward to WFPI later on this morning

  • Comment number 37.

    With the Mexican teams pulling out of the Libertadores does it make Conmebol look weak?

    By weak I mean, they had 7 days to figure out the schedule and couldn't come to a consensus.

    First they didn't allow the Mexican teams to play in the US because they said it was going to be hard for Sao Paulo and Nacional to get Visas. Even though it wouldn't have taken more than a week.

    Secondly, they didn't allow Saprissa stadium in Costa Rica because it has a synthetic field. Even though Conmebol has allowed Peruvian teams to play their games at Estadio Nacional in Lima in the past. The field is synthetic in Lima

    Third; the President of Conmebol comes out in a press conference hours afters the Mexican clubs announced they were leaving the Libertadores and announces that the matches would be played in one off games in Sao Paulo and Montevideo. Did he not know that the whole of the footballing continent knew the Mexican clubs had left the tournament?

    Last, if Conmebol is going to allow teams to refuse to travel to a country (even though all health measures would have been taken to secure the well being of that team) should they suffer the same fate. Last year Rio de Janeiro suffered a Dengue outbreak that effected 24,000 people and killed 30 people but Flamengo were allowed to play at home. The Bolivian teams this year were allowed to play in their country even though they had a Dengue outbreak which killed 18 and infected 30,000 people.

    -----------------------------

    The politicians in South America are also to blame.

    When a consensus was attained last week for the Mexican clubs to play in Bogota the health official from the city did not allow it. Even though flights to and from Mexico continued in Colombia and an estimated 500-700 people traveled back and forth the country daily. If those people could be checked and cleared why not two football clubs whose players would be constantly monitored?

    If Chivas could play in Chile last week during the peak of the Swine Flu hysteria why can't they play in Chile again when the hysteria has died down?
    --------------------------------------------------

    In my opinion the Mexican clubs did the right thing by holding there ground and leaving the tournament when the best they could get was a one off game playing as visitors.

    Chivas has a lot of clout in the Mexican federation and it would't surprise me if Mexican clubs refuse an invitation to future Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericanas and the Mexican national team refuses an invite to Copa America. That would hurt Conmebol in their pockets because they would lose a market of a 100 million in Mexico and 40 million in the US.


  • Comment number 38.

    I see the Mexican Football Federation have withdrawn from CONMEBOL so out of Liberatores Suderamerica and Copa America.They have been treated very shabbily and agree with post 37 Mexican clubs are well supported earn vast advertizing revenue.

    Why was not another Central American country not considered stingent health checks and Tamiflu it could of been an option.

    In its 50th anniversary year it has been completely devalued and will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.Poor Copa Liberatores not a happy birthday.

    Boca going through a rough domestic patch,asked Tim also why they did not play their Cpa Liberatores game .H said the stadium had been pre- booked and will,play next week. Blessing in disguise as Tim , said Riquelme had a foot injury from Guarrin game last month.

    Please listen and join our facebook site World Football Phone In,you can always podcast it,if you cant Stay Up All Night.

  • Comment number 39.

    Personally, Mexicans playing or not makes no difference. They are invitees, cannot use libertadores to gain a spot in the WCC, and have never won libertadores (or beaten the SA champion) ever!

    Of course, the Mexican teams are stronger than many who participate in the competition and effectively add to it. However, it makes no sense to invite mexico and mexico alone for a traditional south american competition, since Mexico is obviously NOT in south america.

    Gremio have beaten with easy San Martin from Peru away from home; so even as a Gremio supporter I don't see much advantage for Sao Paulo since Gremio was in no danger at being eliminated (though Sport and Palmeiras might have something to say).

 

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