Buenos Aires: Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino resigned on Tuesday, deepening the chaos in the frustrated squad a month before the Olympics after its star striker Lionel Messi also quit.
Argentina manager Gerardo Martino (left) watches from the sidelines as Lionel Messi stands on the ball during the Copa America quarter-final vs Venezuela in Massachusetts recently. Pic/Getty Images
In a statement published by the Argentina Football Association (AFA), Martino said he and his coaching staff quit due to management disputes in the body and difficulties in getting the squad together in time for the Olympics.
The blow came less than two weeks after Messi said he was quitting following defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario, sparking demonstrations by fans desperate for him to stay. The crisis in the national squad laid bare managerial squabbles in the AFA that are blamed for disrupting the organisation of Argentina's favorite sport.
Martino's decision was "due to a lack of clarity in the naming of new leaders for the association and the serious inconveniences in forming a squad to represent the country in the coming Olympic Games," the statement said.
Argentine media said Martino was frustrated at clubs not releasing players for the national squad. Key players such as Paulo Dybala of Juventus and Mauro Icardi of Inter have not been released.
Former Barcelona coach Martino (53) took over Argentina in the wake of the 2014 World Cup, where they lost 0-1 to Germany in extra-time in the final. He guided Argentina to 29 wins, seven draws and three defeats. He led the team to the Copa America final last year and again last month in the centenary edition.
They were beaten both times by Chile on penalties. The June 26 defeat this year was Argentina's third consecutive loss in a major final. They have gone 23 years without a major title.