BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Julio Grondona's bid for a ninth straight term as Argentina Football Association president is being challenged by the head of Velez Sarsfield, who is expected to run against the 80-year-old incumbent.
Velez president Fernando Raffaini has said he will challenge Grondona after capturing the support of at least four other first-division clubs - All Boys, Independiente, Newell's and Belgrano.
A senior vice president of FIFA, Grondona has faced opposition for re-election only once since taking charge in 1979.
Grondona has come under increasing pressure from clubs facing severe financial problems coupled with the poor performance of the Argentine national team. He was also embarrassed earlier this year when his plan to reorganize Argentina's first division to include 38 teams from the top-two divisions was soundly rejected, a rare public rebuke for a leader widely known as ''Don Julio.''
''We are a group of leaders looking for an alternative to the actual leadership of AFA,'' said Raffaini, who planned to talk strategy with the other club presidents supporting him later Tuesday.
Roberto Bugallo, the president of All Boys, told the Argentine news agency DyN that Grondona's health and age were factors when ''there are lots of young leaders to serve football.''
Grondona is still expected to be re-elected on Oct. 18, but his authority is being openly challenged for the first time in years.
In a related matter, the head of a small provincial club is asking a court to delay the elections by arguing the voting system involves just a handful of Argentina's biggest clubs and excludes thousand of smaller ones.