Abuse allegations made against coach working for Argentina’s FA

A coach working for Argentina’s national football association is accused of using his position of power to sexually harass and bully female players as young as 14.

World players’ union FIFPRO has lodged a complaint and submitted evidence on behalf of a group of players to FIFA’s ethics committee.

“In what should have been a safe environment, girls and women were subjected to threats and comments of a violent and sexually explicit nature,” FIFPRO said in a statement.

“Because of the extremely serious nature of these offences, FIFPRO has asked FIFA to immediately remove the coach from his current position where he may have access to and power over minors.”

A FIFA statement read: “The independent FIFA ethics committee is currently looking into the matter. As a result, we have no further comment to make at this stage.”

It is understood the coach concerned is currently still in his post.

FIFPRO said it is providing ongoing legal support to the players involved, who “with their collective action, are determined to play their part in making football a safer and more inclusive environment”.

The union has urged any other players affected to come forward.

FIFA’s ethics committee issued a life ban to Yves-Jean Bart, the former president of Haiti’s national football federation, in November last year after he was alleged to have abused 14 female players at the Caribbean country’s national football centre.

In July last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a life ban imposed by FIFA’s ethics committee on the former president of Afghanistan’s national football association, Keramuddin Karim, after he was found guilty of abusing female players between 2013 and 2018.

The Football Association issued an apology to abuse survivors in March after the publication of the long-awaited Sheldon report into historical allegations of sexual abuse in the English game between 1970 and 2005.

Addressing the survivors, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “They were the victims of a gut-wrenching breach of trust. It is clear they were let down by the game, the authorities and society as a whole. We all failed to protect them.”

Report author Clive Sheldon QC found the FA had made inexcusable “institutional failings” for delaying the implementation of child protection measures in the period between the autumn of 1995 and the spring of 2000.

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Maradona’s medical team was ‘deficient and reckless’

Diego Maradona’s medical team acted in an “inappropriate, deficient and reckless way”, an investigation into his death has found.

The Argentinian football star died in November last year, sending shockwaves through the football-loving country and around the world.

Shortly after his death, prosecutors in Argentina launched an investigation, including searches of the World Cup winner’s property and probes into his personal care.

In March, a medical board set up by Argentina’s justice department convened to look at claims that the 60-year-old was not being looked after properly.

In a report dated April 30 and shared with the Reuters news agency, investigators said: “The action of the health team in charge of treating DAM (Diego Armando Maradona) was inadequate, deficient and reckless.”

It added that Maradona had become seriously ill and had been dying for around 12 hours before he passed away on 25 November.

“He presented unequivocal signs of a prolonged agonizing period, so we conclude that the patient was not properly monitored from 00:30 on 25/11/2020,” the report said.

Prosecutors on the case could not be reached on Friday.

Maradona, who captained the 1986 World Cup-winning team, was widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

After his death, there were three days of national mourning, with Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez saying that Maradona “made us immensely happy”.

The star, who underwent surgery for a subdural haematoma in the weeks leading up to his death, died of a heart attack, his lawyer said.

It happened at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, according to Argentinian media.

A subdural haematoma is a serious condition where a blood clot develops between the skull and the surface of the brain. It is usually caused by a head injury.

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Maradona supporters march for ‘justice’

Fans of Diego Maradona marched for “justice” on Wednesday amid investigations into how the football icon died and whether there was any negligence in his care.

Maradona’s fans, including his daughters and ex-wife, took to the streets and protested at the emblematic Obelisco monument in central Buenos Aires.

Protesters sang songs and waved flags in support of Maradona, calling for ‘social and legal justice’ in the case.

AP - Maradona supporters march for 'justice'
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An investigation into the circumstances of Maradona’s death is underway with protestors calling for ‘social and legal justice’

Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time following a glittering career with Argentina, where he captained the 1986 World Cup-winning side, as well as spells with the likes of Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli.

He had attained an almost god-like status in his home country despite much publicised long battles with drug and alcohol addiction.

Maradona was recovering from brain surgery when he died of a heart attack on November 25, 2020.

AP - A supporter attaches a rose next to a photo of Diego Maradona
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A supporter attaches a rose next to a photo of Maradona

Tributes poured out from across the world and across football in the aftermath of his passing.

A medical board, at the request of the justice department, met on Monday to analyse the circumstances of his death.

Investigators are also looking at whether members of Maradona’s medical team did not adequately treat him.

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Should Real Madrid Have Backed Higuain Over Benzema?

For four years, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema shared the responsibility of being Real Madrid’s striker between 2009 and 2013. That said, during their crossover period at the Santiago Bernabeu, the offensive limelight at Los Blancos shone brightly on Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined for an at-the-time world-record fee of £80 million. Although Madrid would part ways with Higuain in 2013, they opted to keep the Frenchman. Results have somewhat validated the decision, but, on a personal level, did they keep the right striker? Well, let’s look into the Higuain versus Benzema debate.

Two Different Forwards

In terms of their respective playing styles, both forwards adopted different approaches during the late-2000s and early-2010s. Having broken through at River Plate, the Argentine made a name for himself as a graceful attacker. Benzema, on the other hand, was far more physical in his approach. Regarding their respective La Liga goalscoring records, the numbers make for fascinating reading.

According to Transfermarkt, across his 190 appearances in the Spanish topflight, Higuain scored 107 goals. By comparison, and at the time of writing, Benzema has found the back of the net on 181 occasions in 370 matches. Concerning how that translates to minutes per goals, the Argentine’s record sat at a goal every 112 minutes, while the Frenchman’s is currently every 146 minutes.

That said, what Benzema lacks from a goalscoring standpoint compared to Higuain, he more than makes up for in terms of chance creation. To date, Benzema has 100 La Liga assists to his name, while the now Inter Miami striker managed 45 during his six years at the Santiago Bernabeu. In defence of Higuain, Benzema spent the five years after 2013 assisting Ronaldo, a five-time Balon d’Or winner.

A Debate That Will Live On

Based on the above statistics, few can argue that Higuain wasn’t the more prolific goalscorer. During his best season in the Spanish capital, the Argentine hit 29 goals in 41 appearances in 2009-10. The Frenchman’s peak return, meanwhile, saw him net 31 goals in 54 matches across the 2011-12 campaign.

Furthermore, in regards to durability, Higuain has the edge. According to Planet Football’s report from 2018, in the three seasons before the article, Benzema played less than 60 per cent of all minutes for Los Blancos. During that same period for both Napoli and Juventus, the former River Plate attacker averaged closer to 80 per cent of all available minutes.

Unfortunately for Higuain, it was perhaps a case of right place but at the wrong time during the latter years of his Madrid career. The arrival of Ronaldo saw the Portuguese attacker take over the bulk of Los Blancos’ goalscoring responsibility. As such, Benzema’s creative flair became integral to getting the best out of the former record signing. That said, now Ronaldo has joined Juventus, the Frenchman is embracing his new-found responsibility, and, as of March 2nd, is 16/1 in football betting to be La Liga’s top scorer in 2020-21.

Benzema Suited Madrid’s Ronaldo-Friendly Style

When at Madrid, Higuain frequently showcased his goalscoring talents. Unfortunately, that somewhat proved to be his downfall. Unlike Benzema, the Argentine was and still is, a more natural scorer of goals, but that occasionally hindered his chance-creating figures. Had it not been for Ronaldo, then Higuain could have been Madrid’s leading striker for far longer than he was.

Former Argentina manager Sabella dies aged 66

Former Argentina player and manager Alejandro Sabella has died at the age of 66, the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) has announced.

The ex-midfielder played eight times for his country and later led Argentina to the 2014 World Cup final, when they were beaten in extra-time by Germany in Brazil.

The news comes less than a fortnight after the death of Sabella’s former international team-mate Diego Maradona.

The AFA tweeted: “The @afa, through its President Claudio Tapia, deeply regrets the death of Alejandro Sabella, former coach of @Argentina, and send your warmest hug to family and loved ones.”

Sabella started his career in his homeland at River Plate before heading to England in 1978, playing for Sheffield United and Leeds during a three-year spell.

He then returned to Argentina with Estudiantes, with whom he won South America’s Copa Libertadores title, and took charge of the national team from 2011-2014.

The Blades tweeted: “Sheffield United are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player, Alejandro Sabella. Rest in Peace, Alex.”

Leeds tweeted: “The thoughts of everyone at #LUFC are with the friends and family of former midfielder Alejandro Sabella, who has sadly passed away. RIP Alex.”

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