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FIFA chief confident Argentina will escape suspension

LONDON: Argentina are close to resolving a row that could have seen the former world champions suspended, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.

FIFA told the Argentine FA (AFA) this month that it risked a ban if it did not accept South American soccer’s governing body CONMEBOL as arbiter in vetting candidates for a March 29 presidential election.

The AFA had voted last month to modify an article in its new statutes naming the College of Lawyers of Buenos Aires and not CONMEBOL’s ethics committee as the vetting body.

“I’m confident there will be no need for drastic measures,” the head of the world soccer body told a news conference.

Speaking after a meeting of FIFA’s final Executive Football Summit meetings at London’s Heathrow Airport, Infantino said the statutes had now been “more or less agreed” and there would be no need for sanctions if everything stayed on course.

“There is one still open question that will be resolved soon – I’m very confident about that – and then the elections will take place,” he said.

“I think when the election takes place in a proper and democratic way, and a new president and executive is elected, then we can certainly continue to work closely with Argentina.”

FIFA last year put the crisis-torn Argentine FA under the administration of a “normalization committee” to put its house in order.

The AFA was run as a personal fiefdom by Julio Grondona for 35 years until his death in 2014 and has since been immersed in a financial and governance crisis.

An election held one year after Grondona’s death ended in farce with a 38-38 tie between two candidates when only 75 delegates had a vote.

Argentina, fifth in the 10-nation South American World Cup qualifying group, face Chile at home on March 23 and visit Bolivia five days later.

The top four qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the team finishing fifth goes into a continental playoff. There are six rounds of matches to go.

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