Gerardo Martino
Gerardo Martino

Rio de Janeiro, July 6 (IANS) Gerardo Martino has quit as coach of Argentina, just days before he was due to start preparing the country’s Olympic football team for next month’s Rio 2016 Games.

The 53-year-old made the decision after being told Argentina might not be able to field a team in Rio, according to a statement on the Argentine Football Association’s website, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

“Owing to the lack of decisions in… the Argentine Football Association and serious problems in choosing the squad to represent the country at the upcoming Olympic Games, the national team’s coaching staff has decided to present its resignation,” the AFA said.

Martino, who took over as Argentina coach after the 2014 World Cup, led the Albiceleste to 19 wins, three losses, and seven draws.

Tuesday’s announcement came nine days after Martino’s team suffered a penalty shootout loss to Chile in the Copa America final for the second straight year.

The result prompted the resignation from international football of talismanic striker Lionel Messi. It is understood Messi’s decision to quit was partly due to his dissatisfaction with the AFA.

During the Copa America, Argentina’s squad encountered regular travel delays, hotels that weren’t ready to receive them, long-haul flights without meals and a lack of gym equipment, among other issues. There were also reports that Martino had not been paid for months.

Two days before Sunday’s final in New Jersey, Messi posted a message on Instagram in which he described the AFA as a “disaster”.

The AFA is being probed by world football’s governing body FIFA over television revenue irregularities and failures to comply with rules regarding presidential elections.

Last month, FIFA named an emergency panel to manage the AFA’s affairs.

On Monday, Argentine Olympic Committee chief Gerardo Werthein said there was a 50 percent chance the country would not field a men’s team at the Rio Olympics due the refusal of local clubs to release their players.

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