Sunday, 28 September 2008

Time for a Move?

The debate resurfaces every time England play home games at Wembley in front of an increasingly apathetic and silent crowd - should the national team play some of it's games away from the capital? For the Football Association there is no debate - the 'new Wembley' needs to be paid for, and the gullible England fans will be forking out for it for years to come.

A similar question has recently been raised in Argentina - is it time for la Seleccion to hit the road? Presently and for many years all home World Cup qualifiers have been played at River Plate's home - el Monumental. The AFA insist that's the way it'll stay for the time being but the highly respected sports magazine El Grafico has questioned this decision. One of the main obstacles are FIFA's regulations which state that all WCQ's have to be played in front of all-seated spectators, not necessarily in all-seater stadiums. Consider this - the next biggest stadium after River Plate's is the Alberto J Armando (Bombonera) with a capacity of 55,000 of which only 20,000 are seated, almost two thirds of this great ground would be empty. The AFA's decision to stay-put isn't purely centred on economics, shipping players out to far flung provincial cities in order to play important matches could take it's toll, particularly on those based in Europe. Although I'm sure Tevez and Mascherano wouldn't be flying Economy Class on Iberia via Madrid though.

The precedent for playing away from River Plate isn't good - the last time vital games were played at La Bombonera the team failed to qualify for Mexico 1970. I appreciate the need for fans in the provinces to be able to watch their team in important games. However moving the team from stadium to stadium around greater Buenos Aires would be an odd compromise. Unlike in England where London isn't the centre of the footballing nation (whatever the Southern based media will try to convey), Buenos Aires definately is the life and soul of the Argentine game.

Hasta luego!

Football Stadiums - Argentina, fantastic site for us anoraks out there detailing capacities, uses and showing piccies (loads of other countries too).