Interview with Orlando Salvestrini: President of Marketing, Club Atletico Boca Juniors in Argentina

By Wilde, Nick | International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, April 2009 | Go to article overview

Interview with Orlando Salvestrini: President of Marketing, Club Atletico Boca Juniors in Argentina


Wilde, Nick, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship


NW: Orlando, when I have visited Argentinian matches it is clear how different the occasion is compared to football in other countries. For you, what makes Argentinian football so different from say European football?

OS: There are several key reasons. One of them is linked to the economic history of Latin America. It is one of underdevelopment and economic crisis and this has had a significant impact on Argentinian football and its supporters. High unemployment and inflation are not the best climate for running this type of business.

The fans also appear to be very different from those that I have seen at European games. When we talk about 'futbol' it is giving people a channel into which they place their hopes and their passion. Football therefore becomes even more important not only for Argentinian fans but also for the government. I think that a typical football fan at the stadium on a Sunday afternoon, psychologically feels safer.

Football also appears to be more of an event for an Argentinian fan, an event which has two components. These are passion and show. In some cases the show is important in order to balance or even offset the intense passion of the spectator. The passion of our supporters is such that there is always the danger that it can boil over and become dangerous and there doesn't seem to be a logical explanation for this type of behaviour. As a result of the economic crisis and the value of our currency, clubs are almost obliged to sell their best players overseas in order to balance their books. In selling their best players, there is an impact on the show element of the game in Argentina. Invariably, most of the best players are sold to European clubs, and during the World Cup nearly all of the Argentinian squad played for European teams. When you walk into an Argentinian game you are instantly aware of the passion, the colourful environment, which is very positive, and the negative aspect of the game which is the dangerous, illogical behaviour of fans. Take my own team, Boca. On the one hand there is this intense passion which is beautiful to see, but sometimes it is threatening. I think that if people haven't experienced this then it can be difficult to understand. You can confirm this can't you?

NW: Yes. I went to one of the Copa Libertadores games and the atmosphere was intense. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and it seemed that everybody in the ground wanted to contribute to the spectacle, and I was in a seated area! Talking specifically about Boca Juniors, what do you think are its key brand attributes?

OS: Let's start with the role of the supporters, which for us is very important. We carried out some research to compare the socio-economic background of our fans with those of other clubs in Argentina. We found a high percentage of upper-middle class fans, a low percentage of middle class fans and then a high percentage of working class fans. Other clubs had a much higher percentage of middle class fans. It would appear that our working class and upper-middle class fans have no problem in showing their love of the Boca brand by wearing Boca colours. A Boca fan will almost wear club colours in an exaggerated way in order to show their passion. They paint their faces, wear wigs, wear yellow and blue clothing and carry scarves and Boca banners. The Boca brand therefore stands for loyalty, identification with the club and identification with other fans who make up the Boca tribe. It also represents an escape from some of the economic and social problems that people face on a daily basis.

NW: What would you say is Boca's global appeal?

OS: Boca is a global brand in its own right, and as a result of winning the World Club Championship on three occasions, it is one of the most important clubs in the history of football. Boca attracts fans from all over Latin America and many of its fans have emigrated overseas in search of a new life. …

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