Ferro includes members disappeared by the dictatorship in its voting register

It is the first sports club to hold elections with this updated list

Club Ferro Carril Oeste, better known simply as Ferro, is one of the most traditional sports clubs in Buenos Aires City. Although currently in the Second Division of Argentine football, it has won the top league twice, even making history as the only undefeated champion in 1982. 

Ferro made history again this weekend, as it became the first sports club to hold elections for a new president with a voting register that included members disappeared during the last dictatorship. It is only the second club to include them after Banfield did it in February 2019, which has not had any elections yet. 

The election became an emotional affair on Sunday when Oscar Leguizamón approached the ballot box and voted wearing his mother’s headscarf and carrying a picture of his brother Eduardo, who was detained and disappeared in 1977.

Eduardo Leguizamon was not only included in the voting register. Ferro also reinstated his club member card, part of a series of historical reparations taken by the club since the creation of its Human Rights Subcommittee in 2015. 

“We thought about how we could remember [the disappeared] at their clubs — because they didn’t leave, they were disappeared,” Subcommittee member Mariano Vignozzi told the Herald. 

Ferro is a club with a policy of actively promoting human rights: in addition to updating its voting register, it is also the first club to install landmarks in front of its stadium to remember its disappeared members.

The Herald spoke to Vignozzi about the work Ferro is doing.

What is the club’s connection to the human rights movement?

Ferro is one of the most recognized clubs when it comes to Human Rights in football. When we took over, a group asked that we create the subcommittee. At the time, the only clubs that had one were San Lorenzo and Defensores de Belgrano

Together with other human rights activists, we wanted to do something bigger. A few years ago, we met up with representatives from six other clubs and created the Argentine Football Human Rights Organization. Over 20 clubs joined in the following months, and now we have over 40 members.

We started wondering why clubs don’t have landmarks [honoring the disappeared] like the ones you see at buildings, universities, and factories. We thought about how we could remember [the disappeared] at their clubs — because they didn’t leave, they didn’t quit, they were detained and disappeared. That’s how the acts of historical reparation were born. 

How did the idea of reinstating the club member cards come up?

Banfield was the first to reinstate member cards and include them in the voting register. Now we’ve done it at Ferro. We were also the first to install landmarks.

The member card restitution was done in a massive rally in 2019. We had one of the founding members of Abuelas, Delia Giovanola, as well as family members of the detained and disappeared. 

The landmarks honoring the club members disappeared during the last dictatorship.
Photo: Club Ferro Carril Oeste

We had to interrupt traffic at Avellaneda Avenue (where the Ferro club facilities are located) because of the number of people that joined us.

The club member cards were made to look just as they did at the time. AFA president [Claudio] Chiqui Tapia commended us and encouraged other clubs to do the same.

These were entire families that were Ferro fans. For example, the Leguizamón family kept paying Eduardo’s membership fee for years.

How did you decide to include detained and disappeared club members on the voting register?

This was the first election in Argentine football where they were included in the voting register.

In the first couple of years after starting the Human Rights Subcommittee, we only knew of three club members who had been detained and disappeared. As we started working, more and more stories came up. We currently have 18 people on the list.

The family members of the club members disappeared remembered them at the voting
Photo: Club Ferro Carril Oeste

The voting was done with respect for the faces of the detained and disappeared. It was a very emotional moment, with people clapping respectfully. We even had both sets of candidates join in.

Some people spoke against it on social media. Do you feel the majority of members are in favor of reparation?

I imagine not all club members are in favor. You can find denialists everywhere. I think they’re in the minority. Support is often genuine and honest, and opponents are often misinformed or have other agendas.

We also do a lot of social work. We distribute food to homeless people and collect donations for several soup kitchens and neighborhoods. We’re currently receiving donations for those affected by the flood at La Plata.

We’ve had senior club members come to drop off donations and tell us they don’t agree with our policy regarding the detained and disappeared but think they commend us for the social work we do. 

We thank them and enjoy the fact that at least some of our work reaches them. They don’t have to agree with everything.

We always had the support of the board and, in general, of the club’s fans and members.


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