By Mike Rice.
In 2020 Alianza Lima suffered their first relegation from Peru’s top-flight in 82 years. The club is one of the biggest sides in Peru with a proud history, having been league champions 23 times — most recently in 2017.
They have produced a number of Peru’s top players including Teófilo Cubillas, Paolo Guerrero and most recently Kluivert Aguilar, who will join up with Manchester City in the summer.
On the 12th March 2021, Deportivo Municipal lost 1-0 to Sport Huancayo in the opening match of the new season in Peru’s Liga 1. Almost a week later Alianza Lima have had their relegation overturned and are reinstated into Liga 1 with Carlos Stein taking their place in Liga 2.
How did this come about?
In 2020 the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) decided to impact a financial penalty on Carlos Stein for their breach of payment commitments to players last season, while other teams received points deductions.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) declared the sanction imposed as not consistent with the Peruvian league’s own rules.
Claudio Pizzaro, a former International who also played for Alianza Lima, Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen questioned the FPF’s handling of the situation.
On his Twitter account, he wrote: “The law and justice are present again. The TAS returns the rule against the bad and murky decisions of the FPF.”
All this comes after Carlos Stein had already played their first Liga 1 game against Alianza Atlético, drawing 0-0. Issues have been raised with how the president of the FPF, Agustín Lozano, handled the situation and his poor management of the federation.
Big news in Peru today that Alianza Lima will continue in Primera following a CAS resolution in their favour.
Carlos Stein were only given a fine for failing to pay their players but league rules stated it should have been a points deduction. CAS agreed re points deduction.
— Ralph Hannah (@paraguayralph) March 17, 2021
Earlier this year he was accused of a crime against the public administration and improper use of his position while mayor of Chongoyape, in Lambayeque. Changes will be needed in order to gain support and trust in his leadership.
The timing of all of this has left a league and fixtures being rearranged, and maybe more importantly two sides who need to prepare for different seasons than they were expecting.
Carlos Stein’s players have been given a further 30 days to be eligible for transfer to another Liga 1 side since relegation and the transfer window closing. Alianza Lima’s players had to consider their futures in the summer and some more experienced players, such as Carlos Beltrán and Patricio Rubio, have moved on while others looked to secure Liga 1 football by finding season-long loans like Beto da Silva has joined Cesar Vallejo.
Since the decision to reinstate Alianza Lima into Liga 1, the club have had to prepare the squad quickly to compete in the top flight. They suffered a dreadful 2020 and the board had dedicated their time to fighting their case and regaining their place in Liga 1.
As soon as the decision was confirmed player recruitment was able to start again, looking to rebuild their strength and reputation.
This has most notably been addressed with the signing of Jefferson Farfán who has returned to Alianza as a free agent after his contract expired with Lokomotiv Moscow in 2020.
Farfán, who has 98 caps for Peru, last played for Alianza in 2001, having spent three seasons there, scoring 28 goals.
— Brian Bertie (@BrianBertie1998) March 23, 2021
He has recently been training at Villa Deportiva Nacional or VIDENA, the FPF national team facilities in Lima where he has been maintaining his fitness having been without a club for eight months.
He has become the highest-paid player in Liga 1, reportedly earning $600,000 a year, with more than half of this — around $360,000 — paid for by Alianza Lima’s sponsor, Banco Pichincha.
Even at 36 and with a history of injury concerns, Farfán will provide a lift for the side with his experience and passion for the club. He is fulfilling his promise to supporters that he would return and retire as an Alianza player.
Farfán was not ready for the first games of the season where Alianza game from behind twice via two penalties against Cusco FC. The lack of a pre-season and the late flurry of transfers showed.
It was far from the level fans want to see them at, but Alianza have the chance to start again and redeem themselves for their poor showing in 2020.