Incredible. According to the Evening Standard, Tottenham Hotspur central defender Cristian Romero is returning home early from the international break after his two-match international ban for violating COVID-19 protocols was upheld by FIFA. After being called up and flying to Argentina to sit out the Albiceleste’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela on Friday, he’s now returning back to London since the AFA’s appeal of Cuti’s ban was rejected by FIFA.
Who could’ve possibly predicted this course of events?! That’s right, pretty much everybody.
#thfc Cristian Romero has faced a wasted round trip to South America after Argentina's appeal against his suspension was dismissed by FIFA. May now return to Spurs ahead of schedule but club must be frustrated by latest shambles. https://t.co/c4PqqpGOcC— Dan Kilpatrick (@Dan_KP) March 28, 2022
It’s irritating, to be sure. The AFA apparently called up way, WAY more players than they actually needed for this international break so Scaloni would have as many options to choose from as possible. That’s despite Argentina having already qualified for the World Cup, and includes Romero, a player who, thanks to past AFA shenanigans, literally couldn’t play in the first match or the second without FIFA intervention. This is the same for Giovani Lo Celso, currently on loan at Villarreal, and Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa, all of whom were involved in the COVID fracas against Brazil back in September.
I had someone explain to me on Twitter after the last article I wrote on this that Argentina, despite being safely in the World Cup field, is laser focused on staying within the top 7 world coefficient ratings so they can avoid being stuck in Pot 2 for the draw and possibly ending up in a Group of Death. That’s fair, I guess, but doesn’t really explain why you’d need to call up a guy who’s literally suspended.
But hey, maybe it’s not so bad. Cuti is a long way from home playing in England, and whether or not he actually played in the match he was very likely able to return to his native country for the first time in a while and see his family and friends. He got in some training with his Albiceleste buddies and an all-expenses-paid round trip flight from London, almost like a mini-vacation. As a fan I’m irritated, and I’m sure Spurs are none too pleased that he missed out on a few more days of training under Conte ahead of Sunday’s match against Newcastle, but I bet Cuti doesn’t see it that way.
So whatever. Cuti’s coming home now, and unless he sprains his ankle walking down the gangway after deplaning there isn’t a whole lot of damage done, I suppose.