The Tiger, the circus and the referees

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'El que no llora no mama’ – ‘don’t ask, don’t get’

Vélez coach Ricardo ‘el Tigre’ Gareca had a moment this week that verged on the ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ Now, there may have been no Big Ron-isms from The Tiger, but he did say one thing, only to backtrack right after the comma.

“I have great respect for Argentine referees,” said Gareca, adding that everyone makes mistakes and he has nothing personal against the men in black, nicely setting himself up for the big BUT…

“…but Vélez is mixed up in a strange situation.”

According to Gareca, the situation is this - Vélez are being victimised for winning the league title a year ago.

The provocation for this outburst came just a few days back. Vélez were beating Racing 1-0, before their youngster Ricky Álvarez was sent off for dissent in the 68th minute.

Seven minutes later Racing equalised. Two minutes after that the Academy took the lead. And five minutes after taking the lead, they extended that lead to 3-1.

The game was total chaos. Rubber bullets were unleashed on the rioting fans up in the stands, while several fans not throwing seats at each other were finding missiles to launch at Vélez players.

Gareca was convinced everything was going against his side. It was only when he saw the blood pouring down Matías Cahais’ face that he accepted that Racing weren’t just time-wasting.

After being sent of by Javier Collado for dissent, Gareca took little time to suggest that there is an anti-Vélez campaign under way and his side are being punished.

Technically speaking, it is Gabriel Brazenas who is being punished. He has not taken charge of a game in nine months, or, to be precise, since the game in which Vélez were crowned league champions.

Brazenas was the referee who didn’t award Huracán a free-kick for a blatant full-studded foul on their keeper, and while their stopper laid sprawled out on the pitch, Vélez grabbed the winner, and the title.

For many, Huracán were robbed of the league title, but Gareca is having none of it. ‘We won the title legitimately, we were the best side with the best record,’ he argued this week, before returning to the theme of his criticism. ‘There are rules that need to be followed, or else this will turn into a Roman Circus.’

Gareca is not alone in thinking something is up with the referees. Lanús may have grabbed a point against Cólon at the weekend, but the club are far from happy with the ref from that game either.

“Why do you want my opinion, if you all saw what happened out there?” asked Luis Zubeldía after the game, before giving his opinion anyway. “The last three times Faraoni has refereed Colón he’s given them four penalties,” he shrugged.

Cólon’s penalty was a clear dive from Esteben Fuertes, while Lanús were denied a spot kick themselves.

Zubeldía’s boss, Lanús president Nicolás Russo, was furious afterwards. “You all saw the penalty they were given, and the one we were not given. It’s a disgrace.”

Also harrumphing after the weekend were River and Boca, both denied stonewall penalties.

It should come as some comfort, then, that all four clubs have some semblance of justice. Boca, River and Lanús’s subjects of complaint have all been ‘not designated’ by AFA this weekend.

Vélez’ object of ire has just been relegated, and takes charge of a second division game this weekend.

El que no llora…

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