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ARGENTINA | 21-12-2023 16:49

Javier Milei defends mega-decree plan in wake of pot-banging protests

Javier Milei reiterates importance of his economic reform plan and says extraordinary sessions will be called in Congress to secure its approval. "I must warn you more is coming, you’ll soon find out," declares president.

President Javier Milei has announced he will seek to repeal the so-called ‘Companies Law’ for sport clubs, potentially paving the way for them to become corporations and privately owned.

The controversial move, which is strongly opposed by Argentina’s football clubs, is designed to prevent the state intervening in institutions, claimed Milei .

The move was unveiled as one of more than 300 changes the president wants to make to economic and labour rules via a so-called ‘mega-decree’ to deregulate the economy.

Milei’s preferred owner structure for top clubs is the Sociedad Anónima Deportiva (SAD) model favoured by his ally, Mauricio Macri. The former president, who spent more than a decade in charge of local footballing giant Boca Juniors, would like to see clubs sold off to private owners. 

Debate over the future of the nation’s sporting institutions has raged in recent weeks, culminating in Macri’s high-profile attempt to return to the helm of Boca in this month’s club elections.

Club members resoundingly rejected the former president’s candidacy, preferring to stick with current Vice-President, legendary former playmaker Juan Román Riquelme, who has vowed to protect the current model, in which clubs are defined as civil associations owned by their members. 

Milei has revealed his support for the private model multiple times in interviews, a fact that has aroused discomfort and prompted condemnation from the country’s top sports clubs.

“Who the hell cares who [the owner] is if you beat River 5-0 and are world champion? Or would you rather stay in this misery, with increasingly worse football? How do we do every time we leave Argentina? Would you rather lose 4-0 to AC Milan but still say ‘I’m national and popular’? Rather than dealing them an epic defeat?” argued Milei during a conversation with journalist Alejandro Fantino.

At a recent meeting of representatives of the AFA (Argentine Football Association), the federation’s top directors unanimously condemned the proposal. 

“Each one of you made a public statement against corporations in Sports and I wish to congratulate you. Clubs need to play their role as civil associations. I’m convinced that is their essence,” said AFA President Claudio Tapia.

 

Profitable intentions

Less than a week ago, national deputy Juliana Santillán revealed that the government would include in its sweeping reform package an item to enable corporations in football. She said a bill to that end would be introduced to Congress and clarified that the clubs could “take it or leave it.”

Some had expected Milei to drop the issue after Macri’s resounding defeat at the ballot-boxes in La Boca last weekend.

Fierce debate has even managed to unite some of local football’s biggest rivals. Iconic clubs as Boca Juniors, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Independiente and Racing have conclusively rejected the arrival of the sporting corporation model. 

“Faithful to its origins, respectful of the clear principles defended for nearly 120 years, Boca Juniors ratifies its status as a non-profit civil association and the premise that our club belongs to its people and members who make it greater every day,” said Boca in a post on its social media accounts.

“Following the spirit of our founders, we reject corporations in Argentine football, as ratified at our Meeting in 2016 when the Superleague came to being. The Club Atlético River Plate is a non-profit civil association, and it will always belong to its members, who have sustained these 122 years of greatness,” said River Plate’s club leadership.

 

– TIMES/NA

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