Operation on TV: ESPN, accused of wearing down Riquelme and playing for the macrismo in Boca


As has happened since it became central to soccer in Argentina, ESPN once again plunged into a tug of war that far exceeds its journalistic content. The complaint by journalist and rapporteur Pablo Ladaga, who assured that he was thrown out of the channel for his political ideology, not only highlighted a wave of discussions and claims in the media and social networks: in the halls of Disney, the global owner of the chain sports, there was more than comments or grimaces of annoyance.

The reason for this underhanded annoyance was not the departure of Ladaga –something that is not surprising in companies permeable to the moods or bad tempers of management or the leadership–, but some seams that the journalist revealed about how Boca has been covering this election year. A sense of construction that affects the general mood of the xeneize world, and that according to Ladaga has a single purpose: “Here there is a power that is on one side, of a certain sector: the PRO wants to recover Boca,” he said.

It is not the first time that the multinational of Mickey Mouse is linked to the political space referenced in Mauricio Macri, and that in these weeks settles its internal, in a not very friendly way, between its two candidates: Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich .

With Diego Lerner as president of Disney Latin America, that political sympathy –which is enhanced in odd years like the current one– always flies over. Those who remember the farewell party that Lerner organized for Macri on December 4, 2019 on his farm, are not surprised to hear the statements that Ladaga made in El loco y el cuerdo (Flavio Azzaro and Andrés Ducatenzeiler) and later in his Youtube channel La verdad San Telmo.

Nor are they surprised to remember the power that Juan Cruz Ávila has in that sports channel, one of the most important managers of LN+, who received financial contributions from the former president’s inner circle. “Juan Cruz mans over the heads of many journalists,” a person who knows the details of the two channels tells PERFIL. This traction, on ESPN, occurs in the form of an “anti-Boca campaign”, as Ladaga defined: starting from real facts, such as that the team plays poorly, to reach subjective conclusions, such as that the responsibility comes exclusively from the leadership that leads Riquelme.

To this is added another no less important issue: the business that involves speaking and transmitting to the two most popular teams in the country. It went unnoticed these days, but Riquelme’s farewell in a Bombonera with Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Leandro Paredes, Lionel Scaloni and Carlos Bianchi was another bitter issue between the club and the channel. Disney acquired the broadcast rights to both River and Boca’s preseason friendly matches to offer them on its Star+ streaming platform.

Last month, once the tribute match for Riquelme was completed, the channel showed interest in broadcasting it. However, there was no agreement: the exclusivity requests that Disney required made Román opt for the offer of Public TV. The 22 rating points that the public channel reached with the meeting, plus the old quarrels exacerbated, even more, certain daily diatribes that are broadcast from the televised panels. The good relationship between Sebastián Vignolo and Riquelme often causes criticism to be redirected to other people like Raúl Cascini, a recurring target due to his past as an expanelista.

In these tensions inherent to the televised soccer business, the management of Alberto Fernández hardly intervenes anymore, who at other times showed intentions of playing more thoroughly. The Government always demonstrated an opposition nest on ESPN: the programmer Ávila and CEO Lerner gave another example such as the return to broadcasts of Fernando Niembro. That winding relationship, which achieved the AFA of Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia, oscillated between incendiary programs when the AFA threatened to sign the entire date with TNT, praise after extending the contract until 2030, and a strong lobby after the ruling of the National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC) that requested that Disney divest from Fox (now in the hands of MediaPro), something that not even the free transfer of two games per date to be broadcast on Public TV could avoid. Issues that are not televised, but are part of a framework that sometimes comes to light when journalists are fired.

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