Argentine football clubs show Milei red card over his privatization project

Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club, Independiente, and San Lorenzo made statements defending their status as non-profit organizations

Argentina’s most important football clubs have rejected far-right libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei’s (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) project to turn them into stock corporations. Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club, Independiente, and San Lorenzo, which currently operate as non-profit civil organizations, made statements defending their status.

Their reaction came in response to a 2022 interview Milei had with journalist Alejandro Fantino that went viral on Saturday. In the interview, Milei defended the “British model” of teams working as stock corporations. 

“Could Arab capital buy Boca? Could French capital purchase River?” Fantino asked. 

“What the fuck do you care who the owner is?” Milei answered.

“Do you prefer to continue the misery of increasingly bad quality football? How do we fare every time we play outside Argentina?,” Milei asked. Last year, Argentina won the FIFA World Cup.

In a press release published on Saturday on its social media channels, Boca Juniors rejected Milei’s remarks.

“Faithful to its origins and respectful of the clear principles it has defended for almost 120 years, Boca Juniors reaffirms its character as a non-profit civil association and [stays true] to the premise that our club belongs to its people, its members, who make it grander every day,” the club wrote.

The Xeneize also rejected “any initiative that implies privatization or sale” of the club.

River Plate also defended its status as a non-profit organization through a document signed by its members’ representative assembly. The document states that sports clubs have fulfilled a key role in Argentine society by providing “cultural, social, and educational activities” in addition to sports. It also said that education and health care would not be profitable investments for for-profit companies.

The Núñez-based club also compared how things would work if they were a stock corporation. “A zero balance sheet is a good balance sheet for a non-profit organization; it means that it has correctly managed its lost income and has distributed its surplus in benefits and services for its members,” the statement read. 

“A zero balance sheet is a bad balance sheet for a for-profit entity because it means that it has not made money, which is the ultimate goal of its shareholders.”

Independiente also said that it is convinced that it must continue to be a non-profit civil organization. “That is what our statute says, and we will never change it. The club belongs to its members.” Independiente is currently presided by Néstor Grindetti, former Buenos Aires gubernatorial candidate for Juntos por el Cambio (JxC).

Racing Club defended its condition as a non-profit organization “for the past, present and future.” San Lorenzo also said “no” to the sports stock corporation model.

Other teams like Platense, Colón de Santa Fe, and Central Córdoba also rejected Milei’s proposal. Central Córdoba backed Economy Minister Sergio Massa’s bid for the presidency.

Tigre, a club Massa has presided over in the past, also expressed its opposition to the stock corporation model Milei defended.

Journalist and former Argentina Football Association (AFA) spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo said that top-division as well as second-division football clubs must support Massa.

“Massa is a man that comes from football who wants clubs to serve communities, for the children, for schools, for physical education,” he said.

— With information from Télam


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