Matias Lammens, President of the Argentine football club San Lorenzo de Almagro, was honored by the Armenian community on Friday, October 31 for rejecting Azerbaijan sponsorship of his club, Prensa Armenia Agency reports.
“I am very pleased that San Lorenzo could be a pioneer in saying no to a budget offering, in saying that not everything can be bought, that not everything can be sold,” Matias Lammens said.
“Sometimes the power of money tries to trample on history. It is surprising how money occupies such an important place in our society and steps over issues of history and identity,” said Lammens.
Lammens was honored in front of most of the representatives of Armenian institutions, as well as leaders of other football clubs like the Vice Presidents of River and Independiente,Matias Patanian and Noray Nakis, respectively. The renowned sports journalists Enrique Macaya Marquez and Walter Safarian, who acted as host, also attended the event.
When asked by Prensa Armenia, Lammens provided details of the Azeri officials approach in Madrid and Argentina, who told him that “there could not be ethnic Armenians in the executive committee of the club.”
He also expressed his admiration for the Armenian community because “they are great activists and have always passed on from generation to generation the Armenian cause for genocide recognition. It seems incredible that only twenty countries have recognized the genocide after almost a hundred years.”
Walter Safarian explained that Azerbaijan tried to enter the Uruguayan club Peñarol, but they couldn’t “because everyone knows that the Armenian community in Uruguay is large and strong. Also, the board of Peñarol had two Armenian officials.”
Azerbaijan currently sponsors Spain’s Atlético Madrid, providing 12.5 million euros a season. In this regard the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called Azerbaijan the “Land Of Repression,” a play on Azerbaijan’s tourism slogan “Land of Fire,” which appears on Atlético Madrid’s uniforms. It rated Azerbaijan 160 out of 180 in the latest of its annual World Press Freedom Index and charges the international community of ignoring Azerbaijan’s rights record because of its large supply of oil and gas.