Southeast Asia Indonesia

Gomez Steps Down from Arema Role

Argentinian head coach Roberto Carlos Mario Gomez has stepped down from his role as Arema FC head coach, as confirmed by the Liga 1 Indonesia club’s management on Monday evening. The former Johor Darul Ta’zim, Persib Bandung, and Borneo FC head coach has resigned from his position after a contractual disagreement in regards of a 50% pay cut that was brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Arema FC players gathered at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Kepanjen, Malang Regency on Monday to undergo their first training session after the current Liga 1 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were two figures who were noticeably absent from the session – head coach Mario Gomez and physical coach Marcos Gonzales.

Arema general manager Ruddy Widodo revealed that the Argentinian duo have left Arema, having said their goodbyes to the club’s management around two weeks ago.

“Mario had called me during my Friday prayer,” Ruddy said, “I called him back once I’ve returned from the mosque and I had him on loudspeaker as we’re gathering at Arema’s finance room at that time. Mario told me that he’s thankful towards everyone at Arema, before saying that he’s not blaming me or anyone at the club on a personal level. He then revealed that he could no longer go on at Arema considering the current situation.”

What Ruddy meant by “the current situation” was the newly implemented regulations set by the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new regulations require clubs to slash their wages for players and staff in half. In other words, everyone would get a 50% pay cut underneath the new regulations.

Shortly after Gomez had phoned in his resignation, Ruddy received news that physical coach Gonzales has returned the keys to his rental house in Malang to Arema through the club’s secretary. Coincidentally, both Gomez and Gonzales were underneath the same agency.

Ruddy was unable to confirm on whether Gonzales is resigning from Arema as well, but he indicated that the physical coach might follow Gomez’s footsteps in leaving the Singo Edan. Additionally, signs are showing that striker Jonathan Bauman might pack his bags and leave Arema as well, as the former Persib and Kedah FA danger man was also underneath the same agency as Gomez and Gonzales.

“Mario’s agent was one of the strongest voices that spoke against the new regulations from the PSSI,” Ruddy said, “And the words of an agent reflects the opinion of those who serve as their clients. So it’s most likely that Mario, Marcos, and Jonathan would leave the club soon.”

In regards of Gomez’s resignation, Ruddy said that he has already accepted it wholeheartedly as he is in no position to force anyone to stay at Arema in these tough times. As for the players, Ruddy have already handed over Gomez’s duties to the remaining assistant coaches – Charis Yulianto, Kuncoro, and Singgih Pitono.

“I’ve tried to contact Mario’s agent in regards of his resignation but I found out that he has already left the Arema coaching staff Whatsapp group,” Ruddy said, “So I contacted Charis and Kuncoro and told them that Mario has already said his farewell to me and is leaving Arema. I then handed over the responsibility of holding Monday’s training session to them.”

Gomez wasn’t the first person in the Liga 1 to leave his club due to the pay cut regulations implemented by the PSSI in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, Finnish midfielder Petteri Pennanen has decided to leave PS TIRA-Persikabo due to the pay cut regulations, and the 29-year old has since returned to his homeland to play for his former club Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS) in the Finnish top flight.

Prior to the suspension of the 2020 Liga 1 season, Gomez has taken charge of Arema for three matches and oversaw one win and two defeats. The sole win came on the opening day of the season, where a Kushedya Hari Yudo brace sent Arema to a 2-0 victory over hosts TIRA-Persikabo at the Pakansari Stadium, while the two defeats were a 2-1 defeat at the hands of league leaders Persib Bandung at the Kanjuruhan and a 2-0 away defeat at the Moch. Soebroto Stadium at the hands of PSIS Semarang.