Written by: Peter Alegi
Primary Source: Football is Coming Home, December 7, 2016
The new documentary film Ciudad Deportiva tells the little-known story of the “Sport City” of Boca Juniors, Argentina’s most popular soccer team.
The sport and leisure park was conceived by Alberto J. Armando, the president of Boca in the late 1950s and 1960s. At the time, it was one of the most ambitious architectural projects in Argentine history. Construction began in 1965 on seven islands on the Rio de la Plata, with plans for a 140,000-capacity stadium, swimming pools, tennis courts, and ample spaces for recreation.
An international team worked on the film for more than three years. Alex Galarza, a PhD student in Latin American history at Michigan State University, shared his doctoral research with four Argentine journalists: Lucas Taskar, Maximiliano Acosta, Nicolás Franciulli and Micael Franciulli. The group conducted on-camera interviews with Boca “elders” and experts, complementing these with rare archival footage, music, and documents unearthed in libraries and archives.
The Spanish language film (with English subtitles) evocatively shows how and why the “Ciudad Deportiva” urban renaissance construction project failed. In doing so, it sheds new light on the vital role of soccer clubs in Buenos Aires’ urban planning, politics, and everyday life. The documentary is freely available on YouTube where it will likely find a warm reception not only among scholars of Latin America and urban life but also among intellectually curious soccer fans.