The machismo of Argentine football has been exposed as a result of the attributes granted to the statue of one of the best coaches in the history of River Plate, Marcelo Gallardo. The figure, almost eight meters high and made of bronze, was inaugurated on Saturday in front of the Monumental stadium with the presence of the main directors of the club and the honored coach, who retired in 2022 with 14 titles in his history. After the statue was uncovered, many eyes were directed towards the same place: the bulging crotch of the coach. Photographs that highlighted the large size of the genital area of the doll quickly went viral and began a debate that is far from extinguished: for some River fans "magnifies" the figure of an idolized coach; others feel that she betrays Gallardo's values and have launched harsh attacks against the sculptor. Fans of rival clubs have turned the sculpture into a festival of taunts and memes.
"Football has a popular, guttural language, and a football sculpture seems to me that it has to have a primitive imprint, which reflects that the fans on the field connect in another way to how they do it in the street," the author of the work, Mercedes Savall, responds by phone. It is enough to go to see a match at any Argentine stadium to understand what the artist means. "Oh, come on Millionaire, put egg we won," the fans sing again and again at the Monumental. "It was a nod to the River fans," adds the artist, who considers herself one of them. "Marcelo has to have them well placed because not everyone has been managing River for eight years," he concludes.
Savall worked four years on this statue commissioned by the former president of the River Medical Department Carlos Trillo after the victory in the final of the longest Libertadores in history. In the sculptural representation, made by casting thousands of keys donated by millionaire supporters, Gallardo holds aloft that eternal Cup raised in Madrid on December 9, 2018 against the archrivals of Boca Juniors. The arms are also larger than normal to withstand their weight.
The duo between the sculptor and this plastic surgeon, who ran for president of the millionaire club in 2021, had already worked to make the statue of another of the club's great idols, striker Ángel Labruna. Although the artist knew that the new work was not going to be liked by everyone and was prepared to receive criticism, she never imagined that it would have such an impact. "I have received congratulations, but also sexist insults and barbarities. The people behind the screen are very cruel," he laments.
"It wasn't with the intention of offending someone or charging [teasing] someone," agrees Trillo. "I don't think it's that big either. We lack maturity. There are people who handle themselves as if they were in the sixteenth century for showing an attribute that many River fans consider that Marcelo has, "said the promoter of the work in statements to the sports newspaper Olé. The source of inspiration was the Wall Street bull, which is said to bring luck to all people who come to touch his testicles. Savall rules out that procession being repeated in Buenos Aires because he believes that, if it is not protected with glass, the sculpture runs the risk of being vandalized.
Argentines have created memes of the statue of Gallardo turned into the black of Whatsapp, with allusions to the Simpsons and photographs in which he is compared to the famous bull cited, among other mockery. Some River fans, however, do not see the grace and are angry. "This sculpture is going to be seen by guys, why didn't you think about it?" one fan says via chat. "It was horrible with the lump. Quite the opposite of how he was as a technical director: serious, talking on the court and little chicanero, "criticizes another.
The Bull of Wall Street became the 2nd statue with the largest genitalia in the world after the presentation of the statue of Gallardo pic.twitter.com/IrWs1jyCnZ
— PASION RIVER (@PasionRiverRP) May 27, 2023
Despite the reasons given by these fans – similar to others circulating on social networks – Gallardo is silent about this controversy that has him as the protagonist. A couple of years ago, River's then-coach received a miniature sculpture made by Savall that already highlighted the attributes that are now controversial. The allusions to the children, on the other hand, surprise in the mouths of fans who on the field chant without blushing chants that appeal to the manhood of the local players and question that of the rivals.
Trillo has been willing to correct the statue and considers meeting with the sculptor to seek possible solutions, but Savall opposes it. If it were up to her, the only reason to modify it would be to learn that Gallardo dislikes it or makes him uncomfortable: "Then yes. That's the only thing I'm worried about."
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