*please read the article before this to grab a better understanding of this topic*
It's been a whirlwind of a month for CONMEBOL as one decision beckons the fate of two power houses of South American football; back to back Copa America champions Chile, and two-time World Cup winners Argentina.
If you have not read my recent article on the issue at hand between Chile, Bolivia and Argentina I'll give you a quick summary:
- World cup qualifier match between Chile vs Bolivia on 6/09/16 ended in a 0-0 draw
- Time passed Chile learned that during that match Bolivia fielded an ineligible player in Nelson Cabrera.
- Bolivia also played with Cabrera in a 2-0 victory v Peru
- Cabrera did not meet the eligibility of a dual-citizen outlined by FIFA:
"The player in question has had to have played and lived within five consecutive years in the country of his double nationality to represent them in official matches."
- Which led Bolivia to forfeit both matches 3-0 which left Chile fourth (Q) and Argentina 5th
- 10 months later Bolivia lodge their claim to TAS arguing Chile's claim was ineligibile as it was past the deadline strongly supported by Argetnina
- This matter is dealt by 'TAS' an independent sporting tribunal.
- 05/07/17 hearings held in Lausanne, Switzerland
- Argentina sent lawyer, Ariel Reck who helped lower Messi's four match ban to one to protest and award those points back to Bolivia
- Bolivia were able to gather the support of Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador as against Chile and Peru who felt they were wrongly done when Chile and Peru were awarded the forfeited victories. (countires listed never played against Nelson Cabrera)
Two days ago news came out of an Argentinian newspaper 'El Clarin', yes not Bolivia the actual country in question in this matter, that TAS will favour Bolivia in what I'm calling #CabreraGate which will see Chile drop two points leaving Argentina to leap-frog Chile into the automatic qualification zone for Russia 2018 with two games remaining.
"According to reliable sources within the AFA (Argentina Football Association) TAS will return the points to Bolivia and Peru." El Clarin.
The verdict should according to El Clarin be handed down within the next 10-15 days most certainly before the 31 August deadline.
This is a huge victory for Argentina rather than last placed Bolivia who were able to rally five out of the 10 CONMBEOL countries in their corner: Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay and, Ecuador while Brazil and Venezuela chose to be neutral in the matter leaving Chile and Peru in the other.
Jorge Sampaoli can continue to celebrate as Messi has already served his one match suspension in a match versus Bolivia leaving him eligible for the final crucial two matches (A) Uruguay (31/08/17) and (H) Venezuela (05/09/17).
What does this mean for Chile?
Well, this is the second time in a year that Chile has taken an issue to the top. The most recent was Messi's case that happened vs Chile in a WCQ where the judiciary found there was zero evidence of Messi swearing to the referee and this marks Argentina in 2 from 2 when taking their case to the top.
This is a huge loss for Chile to take as their claim seemed to be, from what was reported, supported by TAS and FIFA. It was also said that they felt comfortable that FIFA was not involved, however, Messi's match-ban reduction set the precedent of "nothing will surprise us when Argentina is involved."
Just last week Alexis Sanchez in AS voiced his support in the matter claiming, "the points are already won."
Chile, two-time South American champions and 2017 Confederations Cup finalists, will now more than ever need to show on the toughest of stages (CONMBEOL WCQ) their brilliance we all now and love.
Chile's final matches:
(H) v Paraguay 31/08/17)
(A) v Bolivia (05/09/17)
So, the questions to be posed are where did it go wrong and how much does the world need to see Argentina in the World Cup? And, why hasn't this issue reached the international football stage? Is there a reason why the only word we are getting out of this topic is from ANFP (Chile football Association) spokes people and AFA members at the hearing leading to bias commentary?
The English football world needs to hear this, need to comment, someone, some association or FIFA are not being transparent enough.
Football fans are not blind, your precedents speak for themselves.