Sports Politics
Argentina's Mauricio Macri Lost His Last Political Stronghold: Soccer Legend Riquelme Won Boca Juniors Football Club Internal Election
The outgoing president of Argentina hoped to re-launch his political power from the leadership of the country's most popular soccer team. He just lost that election as well.

In Argentina, soccer politics are more than just a game. Juan Roman Riquelme's ticket defeated the candidates backed by Argentine president Mauricio Macri in the Boca Juniors soccer club internal election. The soon-to-be former president was left with no political stronghold. The opposition formula led by Jorge Amor Ameal and Mario Pergolini displaced the macrist candidates by almost 20 points after 24 years of uninterrupted administration.

After 90 out of 143 tables, Ameal had 11,513 votes (51.05%) against 7,383 (32.73%) of the ruling party headed by Christian Gribaudo together with Carlos Crespi and 613 (16.02%) of Beraldi.

Up until the last hours on Sunday, the president's allies were betting on the tables in Argentina's provinces, where the club strongholds have a tight link with the ruling party, and on the tables of lifetime members of the club who have historically voted conservatively.

[Tough Setback for Argentina's Mauricio Macri: Soccer Legend Riquelme Goes for the Boca Football Club's Vice Presidency]

However, former soccer star Riquelme, a legend in Argentina, made a difference for women voters and active members of the club. When the difference became irreversible, Gribaudo acknowledged defeat.

Throughout Sunday afternoon, some 38,400 members approached the Boca Juniors stadium on a day marked by strong statements from the candidates, as had happened during the campaign.

The record number of voting members had been reached in 2015, when the outgoing president, Daniel Angelici, had been re-elected with a total of 26,136 votes. That number was widely surpassed this Sunday.

By 6 pm the voting had closed and, in the following minutes, only those inside the club were allowed to enter the dark voting rooms. Once all the members voted, the ballot boxes were sealed and the table authorities moved them to the designated counting areas.

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The official list baptized "La mitad + Vos" (half plus you) nominated Gribaudo for the presidency and Crespi as vice president in order to succeed Angelici and guarantee the continuity of the line established by Macri since 1995.

Gribaudo - head of the Instituto de Previsión Social of Buenos Aires- faced the difficult mission of sustaining the government in the face of Riquelme's decision to support Ameal's candidacy for the club presidency.

The list "Identidad Xeneize" nominated Pergolini to serve as vice-president and the Riquelme to be the sport manager for the team. The third list that competed was integrated by José Beraldi and Royco Ferrari, two men disconnected from the ruling party, under the name "Volver a ganar" (win again).

Both Ameal and Riquelme denounced different irregularities such as fake ballots. "This is shameful. But nothing is surprising because they are cheaters, they are cheaters," Riquelme said.

For his part, Daniel Angelici said that "there were few proposals and the truth was not respected," regarding the campaign that took place weeks before.

The current president of Boca Juniors also said that he is confident because he did the best for the club, with successes and mistakes. 

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