Riquelme beats Maradona to emerge Boca pres­i­dent

The Punch - - SPORTS -

For­mer Ar­gentina play­maker Juan Ro­man Riquelme has won a three-way bat­tle with bit­ter ri­val Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batis­tuta af­ter his group won the elec­tions at Boca Ju­niors, strik­ing a big blow against his old foe Maradona.

The list headed by Jorge Ameal, who was club pres­i­dent be­tween 2008 and 2011, won 52.8 per­cent of the vote from Boca’s 84,000 mem­bers, bring­ing Riquelme into the 33-time Ar­gen­tine cham­pi­ons’ hi­er­ar­chy.

The 41-year-old stood along­side Ameal as prospec­tive sec­ond vicepres­i­dent and helped see off the fac­tion sup­ported by Maradona and pow­er­ful out­go­ing pres­i­dent of Ar­gentina Mauri­cio Macri, which was led by Chris­tian Grib­aldo and only gath­ered 30.6 per­cent of the vote.

The list sup­ported by Batis­tuta came in a dis­tant third with 16.1 per­cent.

“It was a big party. Our fans voted for the love of the club colours, I’m sat­is­fied,” said Riquelme af­ter his side’s vic­tory.

There has been bad blood be­tween the pair since Riquelme snubbed Maradona, then Ar­gentina’s coach, by re­fus­ing to come out of re­tire­ment for the 2010 World Cup, mak­ing it clear the re­fusal was per­sonal.

Maradona, who is a hero in Ar­gentina but won lit­tle with Boca, warned fans against vot­ing for Riquelme’s fac­tion, say­ing re­sults would worsen on the pitch.

There was also a con­certed ef­fort by the pre­vi­ous club ad­min­is­tra­tion, backed by Macri, to block out Riquelme’s pres­ence in the cam­paign­ing.

A photo show­ing him wear­ing the Boca num­ber 10 was banned from the bal­lot pa­per, and the club warned fans ahead of elec­tion day that any­one wear­ing a Riquelme T-shirt would not be al­lowed to vote at the club’s Bom­bon­era sta­dium.

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