BUENOS AIRES - All football matches in
Argentina were suspended for the weekend after the death on
Wednesday of former head of state Nestor Kirchner, husband of
President Cristina Fernandez.
"This weekend no official matches in any category will be
played... according to what was agreed by the AFA executive
committee moments ago," the Argentine Football Association said
in a statement on their website.
It added the AFA's "deepest sadness at such a terrible
loss" and said it had sent a note to the president and her
family with their condolences.
Kirchner, who ruled from 2003 to 2007 and was a leading
contender to succeed his wife in next year's election, suffered
heart failure on Wednesday morning and died at his weekend home
in the southern Patagonian city of El Calafate.
A keen supporter of Racing Club, one of Argentina's Big
Five clubs that has had strong links with the ruling Peronist
party since the days of former leader Juan Domingo Peron in the
1950s, he had twice had arterial procedures this year.
Argentine motor racing, volleyball, basketball and boxing
events scheduled for Friday have also been postponed with some
Saturday contests also put back.
Argentina ace Lionel Messi and former World Cup captain and
coach Diego Maradona were among many sports personalities to
offer their condolences to the president. Maradona flew south
to do so in person.
"Lionel Messi and family, in conjunction with the Leo Messi
Foundation, wish to express their deepest sadness over the
passing of Dr. Nestor Kirchner," the Barcelona forward said in
AFA president Julio Grondona, who brokered a multi-million
deal with Fernandez's government to snatch top flight soccer
from private television companies' hands and broadcast it on
the state channel, spoke to Radio 10 from Switzerland saying:
"This is a terrible loss for the Argentine people."
The sports daily Ole said on their website the first division programme spread over Friday, Saturday and
Sunday was being put back to the following weekend, quoting AFA
board member Juan Carlos Crespi, vice-president of Boca
This decision postpones the long-awaited return from knee
surgery of Boca midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme, who was set for
his comeback against his first club Argentinos Juniors at the
Bombonera on Sunday.
In turn, it pushes the biggest derby on the Argentine
football calendar, the November 7 "superclasico" between River
Plate and Boca, back a week at least and maybe more due to
concerts scheduled at the Monumental.
River's former Argentina midfielder Matias Almeyda will
have another week to recover from a leg injury in the hope of
being fit to face arch-rivals Boca.
Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron also gets an extra
week's rest and training after being doubtful for the Apertura
championship leaders' home match against Lanus on Friday.
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