Player Strike Lays Bare Soccer Crisis in Messi’s Argentina

Lionel Messi in action during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sporting de Gijon at Camp Nou Stadium on March 1, 2017 in Barcelona.

In Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, Argentina has produced two of the greatest soccer players of all time. Yet, for the rank and file players, the sport’s management is such a basket case that athletes have finally had enough: they’re going on strike.

The decision, announced by the players union Thursday night following months of unpaid salaries, means the soccer-mad nation and two-time World Cup winner, won’t have any games for the foreseeable future. The new season was supposed to start Feb. 3, but was delayed because of the crisis.

“We’re going to refuse to play until the players’ salaries are paid,” Sergio Marchi, president of the Argentine Soccer Players Union, said on Telam. “The AFA should focus on controlling the clubs so that this doesn’t happen. I don’t understand AFA’s behavior, we’ve been waiting for an answer.”

The strike is the latest calamity to befall the Argentine Football Association, which is being managed by a group installed by soccer’s governing body FIFA. Its former president, Julio Grondona, who died in 2014, is suspected by U.S. authorities of being at the heart of the international…