By Juan Arango
Throughout the 50’s and 60’s América was mired in mediocrity. They were the laughing stock of Colombian football but the fans remained faithful to that “Mechita” (string) of hope. The team was exactly that as they fought to avoid relegation.
Their fortunes changed slowly in the late 60’s and in the 70’s began the push towards becoming contenders. That finally came to fruition in 1979. After coming up short a couple of times before, América arrived to the top of the domestic mountain.
After that they emerged into one of the glamor teams of South American football. Adding players like Ricardo Gareca, Julio César Falcioni, Juan Manuel Battaglia, as well as former New York Cosmos star Robert Cabañas and many of the top Colombian players such as Willington Ortiz and Anthony D’Avila. There the
If the past 24 hours have not been a display in ineptitude and complete desperation, then nothing is. It is so sad to see a club that in the past 30 years was mired in glory, despite the controversy, to have come down so low. I am not condoning what the people that ran the club during those glory years did, I am only talking about what the players and teams did on the pitch. América are literally on life support and are trying everything in order to remain afloat.
If we mention the problems that this once-glorious club has right now there is no doubt that we would have to do a five-part (hmmm, sounds like a good idea) feature on it.
Within this time period we’ve seen the players finally decide to stop playing after being owed nine months worth of wages. And with time running against them, they began to take a “react then think approach”.
One of the first steps was to sack coach Jorge Bermúdez due to his lack of efficiency in his role as coach. The former América and Boca Juniors man so far has not been able to revert the adverse situation that the Cali club is currently going through on the pitch.
Now comes the next step. Who do we hire? There were names being thrown around, but many of them refused based on the fact that there was little guarantee of payment outside of what the Dimayor could help pitch in. That might not have helped because one of the conditions in which the players were going to come back and play was only if the club reinstated Bermúdez as coach.
So much for that plan.
According to reports from the Colombian media, Dimayor president Ramón Jesurún and the club agreed to split the costs on one month’s wages of the nine that are currently owed by the club.
This little detail helped propel the players to jump on a 6am flight to Medellín and play Envigado in a match that will mean much more than pesos and centavos to the club. In the end, all the drama was good for a soap opera as they came in and dismantled a hapless Envigado side 3-1. The win helped their cause in the relegation race, but still sees an uphill battle on the promotion end.
The win might have eased anxieties a little bit, but the reality is still there. The team still owed their players eight months worth of wages. They are fighting for their first division lives. Jorge Bermúdez is still at odds with the media and the club. The club is still between two entities that are completely cash-strapped and fighting against the tide and the effects of the Clinton List. The latter had a dubious effect especially with any corporations that deals with an entity on that list. Every single possible avenue for revenue was removed and that is a major hindrance if a club would like to operate properly.
In other words, América will look to fight another week.