Macri, from Boca football ground to president’s palace
24 November 2015, Nirapad News: Argentina’s president-to-be Mauricio Macri oversaw a golden age for football team Boca Juniors as club chairman, which catapulted him into a political career to the top.
“He did well at Boca and he did a good job as mayor of Buenos Aires, so we trust him. We know he will be a good president,” said one fan, Diego Bertoni, a 44-year-old shopkeeper in central Buenos Aires.
At the club’s stadium known as La Bombonera in the northern La Boca district of Buenos Aires, painted in the team’s yellow and blue colors, fans milled around in the Museum of Boca Passion and its gift shop.
This was the hallowed spot where the legends of players such as Diego Maradona were born.
It was also the place that turned the conservative Macri, 56, from a successful businessman into a football executive and eventually a politician.
He built La Bombonera’s VIP stands and a training center.
Macri set up an investment fund to finance the buying of players.
His election win on Sunday heralded the end of 12 years of leftist government in Argentina.
It was just a month ago that few people expected Macri to beat the electoral machine of his leftist rival Daniel Scioli.
“Football always has something to do with it,” said die-hard Boca fan Ezequiel Lobo, 25, near La Bombonera.
“It has an influence.”
– Would-be striker –
“Being chairman of Boca is quite a thing. He made it more transparent and reorganized the club. He managed it well,” said Mariano Aguas, a political scientist at the universities of Palermo and La Matanza.
Macri himself once said: “I wanted to be Boca’s number nine.”
Instead, he led in the boardroom. He was chairman of the club from 1995 to 2007, seeing it win 17 titles, including 11 international ones.
“What I managed to do with Boca showed me that I had the ability,” said Macri, who once led companies founded by his father Franco.
“It showed me I could be a leader without depending on him.”
His influence at Boca persists.
He was rumored to have had a hand in bringing former Manchester United and Manchester City star Carlos Tevez back to Boca from Juventus this year.
The Macris are reported to have links to the Agnelli family, owners of the Italian club.
After voting on Sunday, Macri was photographed playing football himself with friends, including Boca’s current coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
The previous day, he played paddle with another former Boca star, Martin Palermo.
Macri is due to take office on December 10.
The narrow margin by which he won the vote — less than three percent — reflected divisions in a country with a history of class tensions.
For some fans in the team’s working-class home neighborhood of La Boca, that was not enough to make them vote for the conservative businessman.
“For me the fact he won with Boca has nothing to do with it,” said Claudia Almarante, 22, near the stadium.
“A lot of Boca fans may have voted for him, but others don’t like him at all.”