BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina coach Gerardo Martino has added his resignation to that of captain Lionel Messi’s, citing a leadership vacuum that was posing problems in picking a team for next month’s Olympics.
Martino, whose senior side lost the Copa America Centenario final 10 days ago, said he was quitting over a lack of support from the cash-strapped Argentine FA (AFA) in preparing an 18-man squad for the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“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,” said an AFA statement on Tuesday.
Martino was due to start work with the under-23 Olympic squad on Monday but found he had only a dozen footballers after leading clubs like River Plate and Boca Juniors refused to release their players.
He had already suffered the disappointment of a second successive defeat on penalties by Chile in the final of the Copa America held in the United States that marked the centenary of the tournament.
Argentina’s talismanic captain Messi quit the international stage after the June 26 reverse, his fourth defeat in finals with the national team and third in the last two years including the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Messi complained before the final in New Jersey of a lack of AFA support for the squad and said he would go into detail afterwards but has not spoken publicly since announcing his international retirement.
Martino, a former Newell’s Old Boys and Barcelona coach, took the job after Argentina’s 1-0 extra-time defeat by Germany in the Brazil final.
Media reports said the AFA owed him the last six months of his salary and also criticized his tactics in the two Copa America finals against Chile in 2015 and this year which went to penalty shootouts after 0-0 draws.
The AFA is under scrutiny from soccer’s ruling body FIFA over television revenue irregularities and a failure to agree on a format for presidential elections.
Reporting by Luis Ampuero; Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Tony Jimenez