1978 World Cup winners Ubaldo ‘Pato’ Fillol and Jorge Olguín, as well as 1986 World Cup winner Héctor ‘Negro’ Enrique, endorsed Unión por la Patria (UxP) presidential candidate Sergio Massa in a statement released on Wednesday. Several other prominent figures of Argentine football also signed the endorsement.
The move comes after Argentine clubs positioned themselves against his rival Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza, LLA), who has proposed to end their status as non-profit civil organizations.
“Football is a passion in Argentina,” the statement reads. “We, as protagonists, can’t stay on the sidelines when such an important game is about to be played. We know we’ll be singled out, stigmatized, or silenced […] but we can’t remain neutral.”
The signatories also include Diego Maradona’s personal trainer, Fernando Signorini, Rosario Central player Juan Cruz Komar, and FC Cincinatti player Alvaro Barreal, saying they won’t remain silently complicit to Milei’s hate speech and “the denial of what happened during the last dictatorship, which detained and disappeared 30,000 people, including 220 sports players.”
“We observe with great concern the latest statements where this candidate backed the idea of privatizing clubs,” they said. “We adhere to the saying that ‘one more kid in a [football] club is one kid less on the streets’, because we believe clubs aren’t a business anyone should own […] We believe that passion can’t be privatized.”
Argentine football has not been vocal during the Argentine electoral cycle, with Wednesday’s communiqué being the first time players have spoken out against Javier Milei’s candidacy. Argentina men’s national team coach Lionel Scaloni refused to comment last Wednesday.
“We know there’s a lot that still has to be done [in the country],” the statement by the footballers continues. “But we’re sure that going backward isn’t the answer. Violence, shouting, and insults aren’t the answer. It’s always about moving forward, learning, fixing problems, being self-critical, working together, and being more united.”
“That is why those of us who sign this already know on which side of history we want to be on come November 19. For the kids of Malvinas who will never be forgotten, for Diego [Maradona] and against war criminal Margaret Thatcher, for dissidents, for love, and for the homeland, this is why we call on to accompany the ticket led by Sergio Massa.”
In addition to the football players, Victoria Granatto and Silvina D’Elia, members of Argentina’s national women’s field hockey team, have also come out against the LLA candidate. “Let’s vote with conscience, knowing the importance of this historical moment. Taking a stand is what this time demands. Please don’t vote for Milei,” wrote Granatto on her Instagram, with D’Elia echoing her words.