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AFA president vows to get Messi ban reduced
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 31 - 03 - 2017

The Argentine FA, lacking proper leadership since 2015 and fearful its national team might not reach the World Cup finals without banned captain Lionel Messi, elected a third-tier club chairman and former roadsweeper as its president Wednesday.
Claudio Tapia of Barracas Central, which plays in the Primera B Metropolitana division, was the sole candidate in the election but still needed the support of a majority of delegates, which he achieved by scooping 40 of 43 votes cast.
He will serve a four-year term, but some of the power behind the scenes is expected to be wielded by his deputy Daniel Angelici, who is president of top flight Boca Juniors and was a key figure in promoting Tapia's candidacy.
Tapia, who is also known as "Chiqui" (little one), said one of his first tasks would be to get Messi's four-match suspension reduced and said it was imperative everyone got behind beleaguered coach Edgardo Bauza.
Messi was suspended Tuesday after FIFA said he had "directed insulting words at an assistant referee" during their 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Chile Thursday.
The match officials did not include the incident in their reports but FIFA acted on video evidence and Messi missed Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Bolivia in La Paz.
"(We) will make the necessary efforts before FIFA for the sanction to be ... reduced because it is unjust," Tapia said.
Messi will miss games away to Uruguay and at home to Peru and Venezuela, before returning for their final match in Ecuador in October.
Tapia is the first man to win the AFA presidency in an election since Julio Grondona in 1979. Grondona ran the AFA as his personal fiefdom for 35 years until his death in 2014.
The 49-year-old Tapia, who came to Buenos Aires from San Juan province with his family when he was a boy, spent nine years working for the capital's refuse collection company while playing for Barracas and became a trade union leader and president of his club aged 35.
Video refs set to drive major rule changes - IFAB
As soccer's lawmaking body forges ahead on how best to implement key rule changes through the use of video referees, European powerhouse Spain fears being left behind through a lack of domestic cooperation.
David Elleray, the technical director of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), said video assistant referees could help bring modifications to the handball rule to make the game fairer with the introduction of penalty goals being mooted.
The former referee said incidents like Luis Suarez's handball on the line during Uruguay's 2010 World Cup tie against Ghana was discussed. The African side missed the resulting penalty and a chance to advance to the semifinals.
"The IFAB is looking at 25 areas of the game aiming to make it fairer and handball is one of those," the 62-year-old Briton told the Times on Thursday.
"One of those areas we are discussing is incidents similar to the handball by Luis Suárez in the 2010 World Cup. A lot of people have said in those kind of incidents ‘why can't you give that as a goal if it is clearly going in?'."
Video assistance, which is being tested ahead of the 2018 World Cup, played a key role earlier this week when it led to a disallowed goal from France striker Antoine Griezmann for offside in a friendly against Spain.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas said the benefactors of that decision were far behind other countries in implementing video technology due to insufficient assistance from Angel Maria Villar, the president of the national soccer federation (RFEF). The Spanish top flight is the only one of Europe's leading five leagues not to utilise goal-line technology.
The issue came under the spotlight in January when Barcelona drew 1-1 at Real Betis after failing to have a goal awarded when the ball had clearly crossed the line.
Tebas said at the time that goal-line technology was too expensive to be implemented in Spain but added that he was in favor of a video assistant referee, which he said would be in operation in Spain by July 2018. — Agencies

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