After a successful sports career, these Latin American athletes have tried their luck in politics
Several athletes, especially in the United States and Europe, have a university academic preparation that allows them to dedicate themselves to this when they finish their cycles in the world of sports. However, this is not always the case, as some athletes choose to make their way through the politics of their countries with high salaries, even if they do not have the experience or the preparation for it at the end. There are many examples and the newspaper El País compiled some of the most famous around the world, among which are Romario, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pelé and George Weah, who recently became president of Liberia. In Latin America we also have some examples:
Former Mexican soccer player Cuauhtémoc Blanco had a long and successful career as a player of Club América. He even managed to migrate to Europe and be a reference of the Mexican national team for his style of play and tenacity. However, on the verge of retirement he began to dabble in Mexican soap operas, until finally his chance in politics came as mayor of Cuernavaca. Later, despite criticism of his performance, as reported by El Economista, he became the governor of Morelos on July 1.
In the elections in Chile in 2017 there were several candidates, among them former footballers David Henríquez, captain of Colo-Colo, and Pablo Galdames of the University of Chile and Cruz Azul. Galdames joined the race on Piñera's side, as reported by Chile's Emol newspaper. The adhesion of former Olympic marathon runner Érika Olivera to the campaign of the current president is also mentioned here. All competed for places in the congress leaving behind their sporting side, which has cost them harsh criticism for using their popularity to obtain a place in politics. The newspaper El Líbero made an analysis of the participation of athletes in the electoral contest, citing Sebastian Keitel, among others: "If the center-left gave more priority to sport and quality of life, some sports faces would have appeared to be associated to their campaigns".
In Colombia there are also examples, such as former weightlifter María Isabel Urrutia who, after her successful sports career, took a position in the congress, as well as twice with the candidacy for mayor of Cali. Her case is important, because she has defended Colombian athletes with a bill that allowed them to retire if they achieved international achievements. She has also been a fierce defender of Afro-descendant communities in her country, according to information published by the newspaper Marca Claro.
It is worth mentioning that it is not always a negative thing to jump from sport to politics, the case of Urrutia in Colombia is a good example of this. Other examples can be seen in athletes of different sports who are ambassadors of UNICEF and other organizations that fight for human rights, which can enter into the field of politics, diplomacy and philanthropy. Among these athletes are Serena Williams and Lionel Messi who are ambassadors of UNICEF, according to information from the agency.
For former goalkeeper Jorge Campos "it is not enough to be popular to be a politician," as he told the newspaper Milenio. However, the popularity of athletes has been and will continue to be used as an electoral tool, so the future must be to have athletes trained inside and outside the competition to be professionals. There are also good examples of them, such as George Weah who, according to the BBC, studied Business Administration at DeVry University in Florida.
LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
Translated from "Los atletas latinoamericanos que cambiaron el deporte por la política"