In need of a revolution

Not a popular man
Not a popular man

As the city near which the Argentine flag was raised for the first time, and the birthplace of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Rosario is perhaps one of Latin America’s most revolutionary cities, and on Wednesday that tradition continued with a very small march in Buenos Aires. Che was a Central fan, but this week it’s supporters of their city rivals Newell’s Old Boys who are unhappy. Around thirty of them gathered outside the AFA headquarters on Wednesday evening to voice their displeasure at the club’s current president, Eduardo López.

López has presided over Newell’s for the last 14 years, and the main reason for the controversy over his presidency is that he hasn’t contested an election during that time. Having first become involved with the club as an investor in 1990, he’s expanded the stadium and overseen an increase in club membership, but not all Newell’s fans are happy with who these newer members are.

Of all the top flight clubs in Argentina, it’s probably Newell’s who have the most interaction between their board, president and barra bravas. The closeness of the link was widely seen as the reason behind Pablo Marini’s resignation as manager last September (whatever Marini himself claimed afterwards), and López is widely blamed for having encouraged the barras, La Hinchada Que Nunca Abandona, to do as they please in and around El Coloso del Parque. He was visiting the AFA for an executive meeting on Wednesday, and was met by protestors bearing placards reading ‘López, usurper, get out of Newell’s now!’

One fan, from a group calling itself Autoconvocados Buenos Aires, told Olé: ‘Newell’s is a tyranny. We want democracy, decent facilities, a strong youth team, and to see once more the idols who are far from the club because of a dictator who doesn’t allow the fans to speak through the ballot boxes.’ Racing fans shouted longly and loudly enough to force Blanquiceleste S.A. out of their club earlier this year. Can Newell’s fans achieve a similar feat, and force elections through in Rosario?

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2 thoughts on “In need of a revolution

  1. I don’t have that many connections to Rosario to know what all the complaints are over Sr López, but over the internet I have encountered numerous English speaking Leprosos who do… and none of them have had one nice word to say about the man.

    The fact that there is this much discontent while the team is doing so well speaks volumes.

  2. Let’s just say that, while a complete rat, Lopez isn’t stupid and he is well connected in the government and in the courts, so he has had lots of cover.

    Elections will be tough, at least fair elections. He’s done four things that Blanquiceleste didn’t.

    1. He (and the board) decided not to allow more fans to sign up as socios back in 2004. The people most likely to sign up now would vote against him.

    2. He had the club stop collecting the cuotas from socios on a regular basis. I’ve even heard complaints of people being turned away when trying to pay.

    3. He enforces a rule that requires payment up to date to participate in any assembly or election. See above to understand how effective this can be in squelching the opposition. It does seem to be only selectively applied to the opposition, though.

    4. He allows the barra brava to rule the roost. They work security at events and basically (if you believe what everyone says) run the inferiores. It’s big business, and they will go to great lengths to protect it, as evidenced by the kidnapping and beating of two opposition fans during the Tigre game.

    It’s going to be a tough road to even get elections this year, and an even tougher fight to get fair elections. I hope he goes. One championship since 1994 isn’t a great track record, considering he took over right after the successes of the late eighties and early nineties. Since then he’s pissed the club away. Don’t get me started on transfer money and where it actually goes.

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