MEXICO CITY – A dispute between top players and the Mexico Football Federation has escalated, with the governing body saying it will not bow to demands by 13 players who are threatening to boycott upcoming games.
Led by New York Red Bulls defender Rafael Marquez, El Tri's captain, the players have asked for the resignation of Nestor De La Torre, the head of national team selections and the third-ranking official in the federation.
"Around here nobody sits down to talk demanding conditions," Decio De Maria, the secretary general of the federation, said Wednesday. "Nobody sits at the table with conditions about how to fix a problem. Nestor is the director and his head is not on the table as a condition for talks."
Unrest has followed Mexico's national team since it was eliminated in second-round of this year's World Cup. The loss to Argentina was followed by the resignation of coach Javier Aguirre. Since then interim coaches Enrique Mesa and Efrain Flores have handled the team. A new coach is expected to be announced next month.
De Maria acknowledged that 13 players had sent a letter to the federation criticizing De La Torre's decision to make public details of a party held after an exhibition on Sept. 7 against Colombia in Monterrey. The party resulted in fines and suspensions.
One of the conditions in the 14-point letter was De La Torre's resignation.
"There is a problem to fix, but without conditions," De Maria repeated. He said he had talked in recent days with Marquez and Cruz Azul forward Gerardo Torrado.
In the letter, the players argued they were free to enjoy themselves once the match had ended and there were no official team activities remaining.
"This argument is about semantics," De Maria said. "Trying to talk about where official duties end is an uphill battle."
Mexico has an Oct. 12 exhibition against Venezuela, and De Maria said any player in Mexico or abroad was subject to being selected.
"Everyone makes a mistake," De Maria said. "All of us can improve the situation. The most effective thing is that both sides talk."
In the sanctions announced last week, Carlos Vela and Efrain Juarez were suspended for six months each and 11 others were fined: Marquez, Torrado, Javier Hernandez, Giovanni dos Santos, Guillermo Ochoa, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Andres Guardado, Pablo Barrera, Hector Esqueda and Hector Moreno.