The controversial incorporation of soccer player Andy Polo to the University of Sports opened a new crack in the debate on tolerance of aggression against women in Peru, after the 27-year-old athlete found in this team a shield against the serious accusations against him for sexist violence.
“What the club is doing is legitimizing and becoming an accomplice to violence against women. This hiring is an affront to the rights of citizens as a whole,” the president of the board of directors of the feminist organization Flora Tristán, Cecilia, denounced to Efe. Hey. “It’s a terrible message that normalizes violence against women and favors impunity,” agreed Andrea Pardo, spokeswoman for the Manuela Ramos movement.
Citizen pressure has been felt in networks, stadiums and even in high spheres of power, but silence has reigned in the Peruvian Federation of
Football (FPF) and the players, since only the national coach, Ricardo Gareca, succinctly mentioned his position “against all violence, especially against women.” Nothing that would make the “U” back down, which, for now, maintains its brand new signing, although it exempted him for 15 days from debuting while his legal situation is resolved, according to what the club’s administrator, Jean Ferrari, commented this week, who ruled out declaring to Eph.
Polo’s case was uncovered last February, when his ex-partner Genesis Alarcón made public his complaint of sexist violence against the then Portland Timbers attacker. Major League Soccer (MLS) immediately closed its doors to him and his future remained up in the air until shortly before the closing of the transfer market (and Women’s Day), when it emerged in the Peruvian press that Polo had reached a agreement with Universitario to dispute the national league.
The signing was confirmed on March 11 by “U”, which, in a statement, said that it “categorically rejected any form of violence” and justified that the hiring had been assessed with information from the Peruvian and US justice bodies, which they had filed the criminal case against Polo.
But the controversy was already installed and, even, the next day, during a match against Cienciano, a group of women fans of the cream team went to the stadium with banners to protest against the arrival of the player. “He is an affront against us. The administration reduces him to a personal problem, but it is normalizing violence and they must separate him,” one of them, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons, told Efe.
And it is that his protest unleashed the fury of the ultra bar of the “U”, Trinchera Norte, which threatened in a statement to take repressive measures against this feminist group, considering that “personal and foreign issues” could not have space in their tribune .
For the spokeswoman for Manuela Ramos, these threats “only send the message that it is more important to protect an aggressor than to fight against the high levels of tolerance for violence against women.”
Polo always denied everything: “It’s absolutely false. It never happened. No, I’m not an aggressor,” he sentenced this Monday in an interview, hours before his ex-partner revealed some audios in a Peruvian tabloid program in which he begged the player to stop mistreating her in front of her children. “Please, mom, don’t let him hit you,” says one of them. This dissemination prompted pronouncements from the Ombudsman’s Office and the Executive, which, through the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, urged the club to “take immediate action.”
“Being a soccer player, athlete or having fame should never be a pretext to justify, tolerate and normalize violence against women,” the portfolio wrote, on behalf of a government that only has three women at the head of its 18 ministries. Added to this lack of parity are the accusations of alleged family violence by at least four men who passed through the ranks of the four cabinets appointed by President Pedro Castillo in his eight-month administration.
Regarding this, the spokeswoman for Flora Tristán recalled that Peruvian legislation “obliges all people, both state and private institutions, to take measures against violence against women, not only in terms of reporting and sanctioning, but above all in terms of prevention”. But the road looks like a marathon in a country where, every 45 minutes, a woman disappears and, every two and a half days, another is murdered at the hands of a man for misogyny. In addition, 58.9% of the population tolerate situations of physical, psychological or sexual abuse in the family, 33.2% believe that women “should have some form of punishment from their partner” and 27% defends that “if a woman disrespects her husband or partner, she deserves punishment,” according to the latest National Survey of Social Relations.