Mauricio Macri looks to return to Boca Juniors 2:48

(CNN Español) -- Mauricio Macri was president of Boca Juniors for just over 12 years. At the age of 36, he reached the highest office of the Xeneize club in 1995, and ended his term at the age of 49, in 2008.

Sixteen years later, Mauricio Macri returns to the political arena of the Xeneize club, in this case with the intention of returning to power. The former president of Argentina is running as a candidate for first vice president of the club, on the list headed by Andrés Ibarra, who was general manager of Boca with Macri as president and also accompanied him in Macri's political incursion as head of the Buenos Aires government.

Mauricio Macri's radius of action as an influential figure at Boca Juniors extends until 2019. After leaving the chair of president, he was followed by Pedro Pompilio (2008), Jorge Amor Ameal (2008 -2011) and Daniel Angelici (2011-2019). In other words, it was 24 years of Macrismo, interrupted by the presidency of the former ruling party, Jorge Amor Ameal, but who joined the maximum idol of Boca Juniors, Juan Román Riquelme, because in 2019 they won the elections and gave a strong change of direction in the politics of the club from the neighborhood of La Boca.

In 1995 the Macri style began at the Ribera club

Almost three decades ago, Macri won the elections together with Pedro Pompilio, defeating by 7,058 votes the list led by the ruling party of Antonio Alegre and Carlos Heller, which garnered 4,515 votes. In 1999, Macri was re-elected with 84% of the vote.

Macri's early years were far from easy. He first hired Carlos Salvador Bilardo as coach (1996) and had a team of superstars, led by Diego Maradona, Juan Sebastián Verón, Claudio Caniggia, Cristian 'Kily' González and Fernando Navarro Montoya, among others. Then came Héctor Veira (1997-1998), but the long-awaited championship did not come. In 1998, Boca had gone six years without a title.


Macri went in search of the coach of the moment at the time, Carlos Bianchi. The Viceroy had just won everything with Vélez Sarsfield, which was the team of the moment in Argentina in the first five years of the 1990s due to its local and international successes.

That change was the beginning of Boca Juniors' sporting success

With Bianchi at the helm, Boca won the Apertura tournament in 1998. It was the first of a golden era in sports for the Xeneize, which includes 16 titles (six national and 10 international). Those were times when under Macri's presidency it won four Libertadores Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and four South American Cups.

Boca not only participated in the Copa Libertadores de América, which is the greatest treasure of South American soccer, but came to feel that this trophy was "theirs". He played five finals of which he won four and was never eliminated before the quarterfinals.

Boca doesn't live on football alone. The sport of the orange ball, basketball, also rubbed shoulders at the top of Argentine basketball. The club from La Ribera was champion of the National Basketball League on three occasions (1997, 2004 and 2007). This happened in "La Bombonerita", a basketball stadium that was built next to the football stadium itself. Stadium in which the Museum of the Boquense Passion was also created.

From members' club to global brand

Macri found it difficult to impose his idea on an Argentine football ecosystem that defends that clubs belong to the members, as stated in the statutes of the clubs and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) itself. However, Macri insisted and imposed his idea. It set up a Mutual Investment Fund in September 1997, but it was dissolved in September 2003. That fund was listed on the Stock Exchange. The goal was to raise funds so that Boca would not spend money from its own coffers and thus be able to put together a competitive team. "Don't risk anything, but gain a lot," Macri repeated in his catchphrase.

Argentine soccer player Guillermo Barros Schelotto (left) speaks during a press conference with Mauricio Macri, president of his former club Boca Juniors, in Buenos Aires, April 19, 2007. (PHOTO: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

Under that imprint came players who were decisive in the sporting success: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Walter Samuel, Martín Palermo and Javier Villarreal, among others. The premise of the idea was not to invest in the reinforcements and to share the profits in the future with the investors.

The change in philosophy at Boca was already evident in 2005. 10 years after Macri took office as president, the Xeneize club marketed 500 products that included school supplies, mobile phones, candy and wine, among many others.

Tension, controversies and insults

It was a time of sporting and economic success, but also of strong tensions and controversies with the top referents of the "super champion" Boca. The conflict was the distribution of profits and the personalities that were imputed from one place or another in the trenches.

At the beginning of his cycle as president of the club, Macri had strong public disagreements with Diego Maradona and then had them with the leaders of the "super champion" Boca, as happened with the idols Juan Román Riquelme and Jorge Bermúdez, among others.

Macri's imprint of command also clashed with the top driver of the brilliant cycle, Carlos Bianchi. It was on September 23, 2001, when the coach decided not to renew the contract. Bianchi's decision, abandoning a press conference in which he left Macri standing, was a colossal roar that took a long time to be forgotten by Boca fans.

Remodelling of the Bombonera and commitment to the lower divisions

The winds of change that Macri wanted to impose were clear from an administration that began with a strong imprint. In May 1996, the Bombonera, through Macri, presented new boxes and showed off a new look in the members' stand, bathrooms and seats, press area, among other areas of the stadium. However, the attempt to expand the stadium failed, as it was not possible to buy the two half-blocks that border the mythical venue.

A strong investment was made in the creation of the site in Casa Amarilla, next to the stadium, which now bears the name Pedro Pompilio.

Photo from 2015 (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

In this venue, Boca made room for young players who were staying, since Macri's purpose was that of 11 starting players, nine would have emerged from the club's youth academy. To do this, he hired Jorge Bernardo Griffa, a specialist in the training of youth footballers. The hand of this trainer was reflected in the fact that several players from this academy were later taken by Carlos Bianchi to include them in the successful cycle of Boca Juniors.

Blockbuster sales in Macri's presidency

The devastating passage of Boca de Bianchi only increased the popularity of the Xeneize club around the world. The eyes of the whole world were looking at the club that did not stop doing Olympic laps, under the masterful pulse of Bianchi's leadership and with a constellation of players who were at their peak. Among the most outstanding, according to the Transfermarkt portal, are Walter Samuel, signed in 2000 by Roma; Juan Román Riquelme, sold in 2002 to FC Barcelona; Hugo Ibarra, bought in 2001 by Porto; and Carlos Tevez, signed in 2005 by Corinthians, among others.

Boca TV and the Asian market

In 2003 an initiative emerged that sought to make Boca fans see 24 hours a day everything that had to do with the club they loved. The initiative was called "Boca TV". The purpose was to replicate what has already been done by world-renowned clubs such as Manchester United or Real Madrid. The premise had the same financial bias that, under Macri's presidency, functioned like a mantra: don't invest and earn a percentage of potential future profits. The project didn't work out. Its broadcasts ended in 2006.

Another important aspiration of Macri was to reach remote places where there is an important commercial market with the Boca brand. This included countries such as Japan, China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Korea and Thailand.

With that objective, both sporting and commercial, Boca Juniors signed the Japanese footballer Naohiro Takahara (2001), but the player was not up to the task. Attempts were also made to sign Chinese footballers Yao Li and Gou Xu Li in 2004, but none passed the sporting test. Macri's strategic policy decision did not work, not only with these players, but with others who came from Croatia and Hungary, among other countries.

Macri's desire to regain power in Boca

On November 14, Boca had an earthquake. Macri's presence on a unity list drawn up by Ibarra grabbed the spotlight. "Andrés told me he needed me and I told him I couldn't leave Boca because of arbitrariness, authoritarianism and arrogance. That is the way our Boca has no future," Macri said as a conceptual axis in the presentation of the list that he made to the press.

The New Direction

Macri's political radar, which had an impact until 2019, also reaped failures in not achieving the Xeneize obsession of conquering the Copa Libertadores. Under the presidency of Daniel Angelici, the blue and yellow team lost two finals: one in 2012 to Corinthians and another in 2018, to their long-time rival, River Plate.

"Sadly, this government dismantled all amateur football. A lot of important managers were fired. We have to go back to being a professional team (...) so that we can compete with Real Madrid and City," Macri said.

"The world has gone in one direction. He believed in freedom, and each club will have to decide how it wants to organize itself. There are members of a club who believe that it is better to transform themselves into a public limited company, they must be left. Hopefully one day the statute of the AFA says that (the club) that wants to go there, go," said the former Argentine president.

The new Bombonera

At the presentation held in November, Macri, together with Ibarra, presented a model of the new Bombonera that they intend to build within three years and that would have a capacity for 105,000 spectators.

"It's obvious that Boca has outgrown the stadium and we need to expand. That's a huge challenge. Andrés (Ibarra) and his team have the capacity to do so, in a country with economic problems... It was painful to say goodbye to the old boxes and it's going to be painful to say goodbye to La Bombonera one day. Let's hope that the architects can put together a Bombonera with the same acoustics," Macri said.

Argentina is going through a period of change of command in national politics. In the midst of this seismic moment, Boca Juniors fans will have another resounding instance this Sunday, December 3. The polls will decide between two formulas: in one corner is the greatest idol from Boquense, Juan Román Riquelme, and in the other corner, Mauricio Macri, who wants to regain the power of the club that was the springboard to reach the top of Argentine politics.