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Argentine soccer put on hold

Fans of Argentinian football team Estudiantes cheer before the start of their Libertadores Cup final football match against Brazilian Cruzeiro on July 15, 2009 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Steve Chiotakis: Picture this: the recession's so bad in this country, that all the major sports leagues -- the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL -- had to delay their seasons indefinitely. Probably wouldn't go over very well, right? That's pretty much what's happening right now in Argentina, where the soccer season there has been put on hold indefinitely. From the Americas Desk at WLRN in Miami, here's Marketplace's Dan Grech.


Dan Grech: When soccer is played in Argentina, the chanting can be heard for miles. Grant Wahl covers soccer for Sports Illustrated.

GRANT WAHL: Well I'm convinced that Argentine soccer fans are the most passionate sports fans in the world. So for soccer to stop is a tremendous blow to society.

Argentine soccer clubs are nonprofits and have tended to be poorly managed. The clubs owe $80 million in back taxes and $8 million more in salaries. Normally, teams would make up that money by selling their best players to top teams in Europe.

WAHL: Lately with the global economic crisis, the teams in Europe don't have as much money to buy the contracts of Argentine players. And so, millions of dollars that would normally go into Argentine teams budgets, that's not happening.

To raise money, the Argentine Soccer Association is trying to renegotiate TV contracts. Meanwhile, fans are protesting in the streets -- demanding the season start on schedule next week.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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