Argentine FA backs down on plan to fuse top two divisions

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has backed down on a much-criticized plan to fuse the first and second divisions into a 38-team national championship from next year.

"The AFA resolved tonight (Monday) to suspend consideration of the proposal," the sport's national governing body said in a statement on its official website (, while not ruling out looking at it again at a later date.

Players, coaches, fans, club directors and media were scathing in their criticism of the idea, made public last week, which would have been introduced in the 2012-13 season.

Fans called for a demonstration at AFA headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires.

The plan, to include the 20 first division sides and 18 from the second-tier Nacional B, was seen as a ruse to get relegated giants River Plate back into the top flight as quickly as possible and also ensure other big teams did not risk the drop.

Reports also suggested it might have been a plan for the government, which controls broadcasting of first division matches, to expand into the Nacional B which is televised by a private channel.

The Apertura championship, first of two in the Argentine first division season, kicks off this weekend. The Nacional B is a single season long championship with River in it after being relegated for the first time in June.