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Argentine FA threatens Copa America exit over government interference

The Argentine FA (AFA) has threatened to pull the nation out of the Copa America Centenario after accusing the government of "clear interference."

Argentina are among the favourites for the tournament in the United States and are due to play their first match against holders Chile in Santa Clara, California, on June 7.

However, their participation has been thrown into doubt by the AFA after the Argentine government suspended the federation's presidential elections, which had been scheduled for June 30, and appointed two inspectors to investigate allegations that TV revenues had been misappropriated.

AFA executive secretary Damian Dupiellet told radio station La Red that an emergency board meeting would decide whether the national team should be brought back to Argentina from their pre-tournament base in California.

"The elections are suspended for 90 days and could be suspended for 90 days more," Dupiellet said, according to Clarin. "Two inspectors have been sent to carry out an internal review. This is clear interference in the life of the AFA."

FIFA has suspended a number of nations in recent years for government interference, including Nigeria, Cameroon and Indonesia, and Dupiellet added: "We will ask CONMEBOL and FIFA to evaluate if this is against their institutions' rules.

"The Executive Board will decide tomorrow [Tuesday] if the national team must return to Argentina."

Argentina captain Lionel Messi is hoping to lead Argentina to their first major international trophy since 1993.

News of the country's Inspeccion General de Justicia -- a department within the Argentine ministry of justice -- suspending the elections was confirmed in a statement on the AFA website.

"The AFA has received a demand from the Inspeccion General de Justicia that today will be analysed by the management body in a meeting of the Executive Committee," the statement said. "The AFA informs that it has received a message from the Inspeccion General de Justicia regarding the suspension of elections set for next June 30, and appoints two inspectors for a period of 90 days. This demand will be analysed by the Executive Committee in a meeting today, at 18:00 hours, and then a decision will be taken."

Argentine newspaper Clarin reported that "financial and administrative turmoil" is the reason the government has moved to suspend the election.

La Nacion said federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria is currently investigating the handling of the money earned from the "Futbol Para Todos" TV programme, which is overseen by the central government and was a project of former Argentina president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Fernandez de Kirchner's successor, Mauricio Macri, is a former president of Argentine club Boca Juniors, and a backer of Servini de Cubria's investigation.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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