Whoa, easy Tigre: defender accuses coach of demanding cash to play


While one of local radio station La Red’s journalists may be unaware of twitter etiquette and pointedly writes in capitals, he was entirely right with the tone of his message, because La Red had managed to get one of the stories of the year in Argentine football.

Tigre right back, the Colombian Juan Angulo Villegas, was on the air.

"He asked my agent for money so that I’d play. I said no. I’m not a bad player. I can do what he asks of me, and earn my place in the team."

Villegas was speaking about his coach Ricardo Caruso Lombardi. BOOM!

The 22 year old has yet to play for the Matador since signing a few months ago. Caruso had in fact recently said that the player who hadn’t been in the first team was Villegas, because he had been injured for two of the three months he has been with the club.

Villegas spoke to the radio. Then he spoke on TV, repeating his version of events and the accusation that his coach has demanded money in return for a place in the team.

Caruso quickly went on the attack. First he was on radio. Then he was back on an afternoon TV talk show on the phone where he went into meltdown, and released a series of insults and counter-accusations in a 20 minute rant that made for astonishing viewing.

He wanted to know who the fu*k this Angulo kid was to come and say these kind of things about him, and Villegas would be in for a hiding if he found him.

He said that Villegas wasn’t a bad kid, but was just stupid. Meanwhile, Caruso also had plenty to say about Villegas’ agent, who he claimed had ‘stolen’ seven players from a Colombian club. The agent is a ‘gangster’ according to Caruso. And in and around this, there is the sports daily Olé’s journalist who covers Tigre, is also Colombian, and according to Caruso has a vendetta against him.

The cross fire sparked Caruso quitting from the club, and many believe he will quit football altogether. He denied any wrong doing – ‘ask any of my players if I even asked they pay for a coffee’ – but the mud will stick.

Perhaps there is a vendetta against Caruso. Just last week news filtered through that there had been a fight during a closed training session at Tigre. Caruso was said to have taken a punch while trying to stop the scuffle. But some said that Caruso was in there throwing his fists around too. Who should we believe?

The other problem Caruso faces is the well-known touchline fracas with Godoy Cruz coach Omar Asad last season.

Tigre were losing 6-2 to Godoy Cruz in Mendoza, and being taught a lesson. A comment from an irate Caruso sparked off Asad who made a money-counting gesture over and over again.

He was saying Caruso took money from his players.

Months later, Villegas came out and said what nobody else had dared say before. But is Villegas being used? Is there a vendetta out on Caruso? Is this a stitch-up?

Caruso is one of the larger-than-life local characters - essentially the Phil Brown of the Argentine game for skin tone and personality, and even a mild resemblance. He may be lost for good.

RESULT Olimpo 1-1 Arsenal FIXTURES Friday All Boys v Banfield, Racing v Gimnasia Saturday Estudiantes v Argentinos, Colón v River Sunday San Lorenzo v Newell’s, Tigre v Huracán, Godoy Cruz v Vélez, Boca v Quilmes, Lanús v Independiente.