Few comforts at lowly Uruguayan club Rocha

Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:46pm EST
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By Brian Homewood

ROCHA, Uruguay (Reuters) - At Uruguayan second division side Rocha, club directors man the hamburger stand and the visiting team warm up on a piece of wasteland in front of the stadium.

Two years ago, Rocha were playing in the final of the Uruguayan championship and qualified for the South American Libertadores Cup, the region's equivalent of the Champions League.

Even then, the club lived a precarious existence. The players shared their training pitch with a herd of cattle and when they reached the final by winning the Apertura tournament -- the first stage of the 2005/06 championship -- they celebrated by completing a lap of honor with a cow in tow.

As so often in South America's impoverished club football, success failed to breed more success and after briefly flirting with glory, Rocha, based in the sleepy town of the same name some 220 kms east of Montevideo, fell on hard times once again.

Now they are back in the second division after being relegated two seasons ago and the credit crunch is unlikely to make the slightest difference to a club who were struggling long before this year's financial crash.

Facilities at the 8,000-capacity Mario Sobrero municipal stadium are minimal.

The dressing-rooms are too small for the teams to warm up so Rocha use a space under trees behind the terraces while the visitors use the wasteground in front of the stadium.

Club president Pablo Scaffo says the club survives on a monthly budget of $12,000 and the highest-paid player earns $400 a month.   Continued...