Argentine footballers return to Beijing, choose hotel over Olympic Village

August 17th, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 17 (DPA) The Argentine football team returned to Beijing for Tuesday’s semi-final against arch-rival Brazil, opting to stay in an hotel instead of the Olympic Village. “The national football team will stay at a private hotel,” Argentine Olympic Committee spokesman Eduardo Moyano told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) Sunday.

“I have no idea about the reasons, but I it must be because they want to be more focused on the game against Brazil.”

The team around Lionel Messi and Juan Roman Riquelme who are defending their gold medal from Athens 2004 advanced to the semis with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands Saturday in Shanghai.

Football legend Diego Maradona is in China to support the team which also includes striker Sergio Aguero, boyfriend of Maradona’s younger daughter Giannina.

Argentina did stay at the Olympic Village when they played Serbia in the first round of the tournament. Some players complained that they did not enjoy the comforts that they would have expected.

What looked like a complaint by wealthy elite professionals was, in fact, little more than lack of Internet access and even a television in the rooms Messi and his teammates were given. Other members of the Argentine Olympic delegation do enjoy such comforts.

“In the end they do not treat us footballers as well as people think. Sometimes we do not seem to be Argentines at all,” Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano had complained Wednesday.

Other Argentine sportsmen are lodged in a different building at the Olympic Village, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that footballers should have their own building.

Argentina have played three of their four Olympic matches so far in Shanghai.

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