In Argentina, and much more in the midst of a pandemic, social clubs in all popular neighborhoods not only offer sports activities, they are also vital as spaces for social containment. In the town of Lisandro Olmos, on the outskirts of the city of La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires, the United Neighborhood Center of Olmos more than meets that premise.
In this area of strength and work, where urbanity mixes with horticultural farms, the community and articulated support of the club is essential for hundreds of families. Last year, during the toughest quarantine, the institution received and distributed donations for the most needy neighbors.
But now, the one that needs help is the club, since it faces a millionaire lawsuit that leaves him on the brink of disappearance, and the reason seems to come from a story by Roberto Fontanarrosa: the litigation is for a fateful kick against a rival, during a soccer game played in 1985.
Founded on February 5, 1939 by Italian and Spanish immigrants, Unidos de Olmos offers various cultural and sports activities, but its strength is football. He was champion of the Platense Amateur League in 1984, 1985, 1993 and 2019.
It was precisely in the 1985 tournament when the move that today endangers the continuity of the club occurred. On a rainy day and with the court muddy, José Gutierrez, Olmos player, came out to meet Eduardo Montero, from the Tolosano Cultural Circle, who was moving the ball to the rival field.
On the run, Gutiérrez launched a kick in an effort to clear the ball, but He missed and hit Montero’s right leg, who barely felt the contact heard the sound of his bone cracking. Gutiérrez was expelled and the game continued, although the injured had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The result was an open fracture of the tibia and fibula that led to other clinical complications. Within weeks of the accident, when Montero’s cast was removed, he had a necrotizing infection. They had to amputate it below the knee.
Today, 35 years after that episode, the lawsuit for damages initiated by the family of the victim has yet to be resolved. Although in the current board of directors of the club no one remembered what happened that afternoon, a call from the son of the injured player set off the alarms, since the sentence establishes the auction of four lots of land, exactly where the Olmos court is located. If executed, the club would be ruined, since that is where all the activities take place.
Luis Pérez is a former soccer team player, he has been a leader for four years and has been president for two years. He was never aware of the lawsuit and assures that the previous managers had played down its importance, they did not respond to the notifications probably because “They did not believe that a social club could go to auction.”
“When I received the call, I did not know what the man was talking about until he forwarded the file to me and, after speaking with the club’s lawyer, I realized that it was all true,” Pérez tells RT.
The Montero do not intend to auction the land, but they demanded as economic compensation the sum of five million pesos (about $ 51,000), a figure that is “impossible” to face for an institution that barely has the income of a few members who can pay the fee.
For this reason, the club proposed a collection through a contribution bonus of 300 pesos (three dollars) or voluntary contributions, although, they admit, they can hardly get the amount of money necessary to stop the judicial onslaught.
“The lawyer told me that the matter was very advanced and that there was no other to pay. He took a look at the file, communicated with the plaintiff, they negotiated and made the updated settlement, it gives 1.7 million pesos plus the fees. Total: 2.5 million pesos (about $ 25,687), that is the real number. Now we are negotiating, but everything depends on the other party, “says the highest authority of Unidos de Olmos.
And he remarks that it is unfair that the club has to take charge of a malpractice problem that occurred more than three decades ago: “Whatever the amount, it’s crazy to pay for a sports accident, something that can happen and for which we are not responsible. In addition, for a neighborhood club it is impossible to raise that money without help. “
The municipality of La Plata contacted the institution to say that they were willing to collaborate, although it is not yet known in what way.
“All neighborhood clubs have a very important social role,” says Luis Pérez. “The boy who is doing sports is not wandering around in the street, and we also offered a picnic area that had to be cut due to the pandemic, although we made popular pots , we deliver merchandise, and in two or three months we plan to open a community soup kitchen. “
The quarantine also does not allow them to collect through the sale of tickets, since the matches are played without an audience. But despite this, community service is never suspended: “It is a very humble, hard-working neighborhood, and it costs us a lot to collect the fee, it is a problem we always had. But you cannot tell a boy that he does not play because he did not pay. . For something we are a social club. He who can not, welcome and if you need the dining room, too “.
For now, the Centro Vecinal Unidos de Olmos and all the boys who attend it depend on solidarity not only from their fans. “We can’t put people out of business, but somehow we’re going to figure it out. We have to continue asking for everyone’s collaboration to get to raise this money, “says the president.
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