In what looks like a slightly different version of the typical gimmick, Bolivian first division club Sport Boys has signed the country’s president Evo Morales to a contract and intend to use the 54-year-old in August, according to reports.
Sport Boys, currently ninth out of 12 teams, have signed the popular politician with designs on using him off the bench when the division’s 2014-15 Apertura tournament kicks off. The 50-year-old club, coming off its first season in the top flight, all also count on Morales for some easy publicity.
“The president of a country playing professional football will go down in history,” said Mario Cronenbold, whose club is based in Warnes, 30 kilometres to the north of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
“He has good ball skills and a great shot. He doesn’t have to play the full 90 minutes, 20 minutes is enough,” said the chairman, according to reports in this Friday’s ‘El Deber’ newspaper.
According to Reuters, Morales will draw a salary of $213 per month, in line with the country’s minimum wage.
Asked about the wisdom of signing a 54-year-old player, Cronenbold brushed off concerns.
“As I told the president, jokingly, we are not putting the President of Uruguay on the field,” Cronenbold said, referring to Uruguay’s 78-year-old Jose Mujica. “We are contracting a person who is in very good shape and who lives soccer.”
If Julio Franco can keep playing baseball, why can’t Morales sign a deal with Sport Boys? Perhaps because, unlike Franco, Morales doesn’t have near-30 years experience as a professional athlete, despite his enthusiasm for the sport.
But let’s not get too analytic about this. It’s only a gimmick, and in that light, Morales’s potential career should be compared to Vladimir Putin’s hockey exploits or Kim Jung-Il’s golfing prowess. The one advantage Morales has on those leaders: He appears ready to take part in real games, even if his role will likely be a cameo.