In 2015 I was summoned by Independiente to carry out a pedagogical articulation project for pension soccer players that took place in Vélez. It was a wonderful job that I had the opportunity to develop for six years, with a great team of professionals who committed themselves to a project that proposes caring for and listening to children in a context like football, which is a meat grinder. Three years later we had to deal with abuse cases. Thanks to the conviction of an idea and the unconditional support of the club, these young people trust us.
The first meeting was at a table in the Imperio pizzeria, in Villa Crespo. I summoned part of the team of professionals who worked with me at the Independiente pension, two women and two men, two from the field of Psychology and two from Education. I hadn’t slept the night before, I didn’t know that I was going to have another month like this later. I told them what I knew, it was very hard, distressing, we looked at each other puzzled, we didn’t imagine that something like this could happen, no one knew that these situations happened in the world of youth soccer.
We made the decision to legitimize with all the boys that we knew what was happening. We held a meeting, we explained to them that none of them had done anything wrong and that the people who contacted them were committing a crime, that they trusted us, that they wanted to help and accompany them.
Some were very uncomfortable with that talk and there were different reactions, all within a framework of absolute respect, which generates the framework of work and accompaniment that he uses in that boarding house, which was a family. Several reached out and trusted, while others did so as they were able. The football coordination and the club authorities were informed and decided to file a complaint. Everything that happened in the next three weeks was very difficult: with a one and a half year old daughter, for 20 days I only returned home at dawn to bathe and change my clothes, I practically did not sleep.
I had to pick up the phone and tell a mother about the situation her son was going through. In the midst of their anguish, they told me: “Thank you, professor, for everything you do for the children.” It took me a long time to understand why they were thanking me. For two years we accompanied each of the victims to expertise, to specialized therapeutic spaces, we brought entire families to accompany their children in complex moments like a Gesell camera, for example. I had to learn about a topic that I had no greater knowledge of. Prosecutor Soledad Garibaldi and her team taught us a lot, me, the entire team of professionals, the families and the children, her human warmth was at the level of everything we had been doing, which had a balance that made everything will flow
The Independiente authorities accompanied, they were respectful, they did everything he asked of them, and beyond what is currently being experienced, they were at the forefront, being the first club in the world to make this type of complaint.
When the World Cup ended I thought of all the world champions who went through pensions and saw, heard from a colleague or suffered this madness first hand, a madness in which everyone suffers, the victims, that most of them cannot count and live with that all his life, and the one who knows of a partner who suffered it. All football players have been complicit in this for more than forty years. But now that we are world champions, perhaps the authorities will take note and do something about it. Someone from the AFA told me that they are working on the issue, I offered them my disinterested help and told them that as long as I don’t see progress, I will continue to report it.
I recently had a training on the purposes that one has in life, without a doubt the accompaniment of boys and girls victims of is one of mine. In a country where there is increasing poverty and more situations of vulnerability, there will be many criminals who will want to continue taking advantage of this. It has to be an issue that commits us as a society and everyone can do their bit.
I haven’t worked at the club or in the world of football for two years. Five years have passed since the so-called Independent Cause and there are no detainees, there is no trial, absolutely nothing happens. As a result of this cause, there were many boys and girls who dared to speak, that is where healing begins.
It is clear to me that football clubs do not like to appear in the newspapers or on the news for issues like these, but even so they did things well. If you know and do not report you are an accomplice, there are no greys. We want Justice, five years have passed, it’s a shame. With the boys and girls, no!
*Former Independiente youth coordinator.
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