Ahead of Rio Olympics, Gerardo Martino steps down as Argentina coach

  • AP, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2016 08:52 IST
Gerardo Martino (right) looks down as Argentina's players celebrate a goal against Brazil during their Russia 2018 Fifa World Cup South American Qualifiers football match, in Buenos Aires. (AFP File Photo)

Gerardo Martino has resigned as Argentina’s national team coach, citing the financial chaos enveloping the Argentine Football Association and lack of preparedness for the upcoming Olympics.

The Argentine Football Association announced on Tuesday that Martino, who had coached the team since August 2014, had stepped aside. He took over after the loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and lost to Chile in the Copa America finals of 2015 and 2016.

His departure was another blow to the national team after the shock international retirement of star player Lionel Messi after the latest Copa defeat.

Argentina moved quickly to name a new coach to get ready for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, only a month away.

Juan Sebastian Veron, president of the Estudiantes club, confirmed that Julio Olarticoachea, who was a defender on the Argentine squad that won the 1986 World Cup and has been coaching the country’s youth teams, would replace Martino in leading the Olympics team.

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At this point, Argentina has only nine players on its Olympic squad, and the president of the Argentine Olympic committee has hinted he might not send a team.

In addition, the Argentine federation is facing charges of financial corruption and mismanagement.

AFA’s statement said Martino’s “coaching team was resigning” because of the confusion surrounding the governance of AFA and for the “serious problems involved assembling a team to represent the country in the upcoming Olympic Games”.

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi (left) speaking with coach Gerardo Martino during a training session in La Serena, Coquimbo, Chile. (AFP File Photo)

Gerardo Werthein, president of the Argentine Olympic committee, said he hoped a team could be assembled despite some clubs balking at releasing players.

“I have started talking with the football leadership, some club presidents,” Werthein said. “The clubs and the people who lead them are more responsible (than AFA). We have worked hand-in-hand...for Argentina to have a team.”

Argentina is scheduled to open against Portugal on August 4 in the men’s football tournament of the Olympics.

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