The surprising fate of the owner of Elche, the businessman with two bullets in the office

Barcelona“People like to talk. They say I’ve gotten rich from drug dealers, but it’s not true. I came to Mexico to work in football, my passion. And it turned out that the club where I was had some partners who apparently had become rich with drug trafficking. And an image of me was created that was unfair to me, “said Christian Bragarnik, the owner of Elche.

An amateur footballer without much quality, Bragarnik was a stranger to most Argentines, but in a few years he has built an empire that allows him to control more than 100 players, 20 coaches and have been the last representative of Diego Armando Maradona. A meteoric rise for this former Argentine fourth and fifth division player who 25 years ago played for a club with almost no fans, Yupanqui, while working in a video club, where he was tired of recording all the football matches on old VHS that could. To earn an extra salary, he also edited wedding videos. Already retired from football, he pursued a law career combining his studies with a thousand jobs, until in 2001 he met the footballer Mariano Monroy, who after playing for Talleres was looking for a new destination. Bragarink offered to make a video with his best plays at a time when not everyone had access to party pictures. And that VHS served to close the signing of Monroy by Irapuato, a team in the Mexican First Division. It was the beginning of a meteoric rise that has led him to meet with the presidents of the big European clubs thanks to control of the illicit team, which chains the second consecutive season in Primera with him in the box, despite having had enough of changing technicians. Francisco, the former coach of Girona, is the fifth in these two seasons.

The passage through Mexico

When he left Argentina to go to Mexico, few people knew him. Irapuato’s leaders sniffed that Bragarnik had ideas and ambition. And in six months he was already sporting director of Querétaro, another club controlled by the same business group. Bragarnik took a lot of Argentine players and coaches to Mexico for two seasons, and went on to hold the position of president of Querétaro, until in 2002 these two clubs were sent to Segona after an investigation that showed that they were controlled. by companies linked to the head of drug trafficking Tirso Martínez Sánchez. Bragarnik, however, had taken advantage of that adventure to make a lot of contacts in Mexican clubs. After losing his job at Querétaro, he signed for Xolos de Tijuana, a club controlled by the city’s former mayor, Jorge Hank Rhon, a man who years later was arrested with more than 80 weapons in his home and lots of exotic animals. “People hear Tijuana’s name and think of narcos, but like all cities, they have a normal life and a football club like any other,” said Bragarnik, who recently admitted that Hank Rhon is one of the partners with whom he shares property in Elche. Hank, in fact, controlled two football clubs. The Xolos and Dorados of Sinaloa, a club where Bragarnik coached Diego Armando Maradona in 2018. Hank, the son of a prominent politician, has been arrested twice. One for the purchase of exotic animals without permission and the other as part of an investigation into illegal activities. In addition, two employees of his security company were charged with murdering a journalist investigating the Hank family.

In 2011 Bragarnik had returned to Argentina to found the football representation company Score Fútbol, ​​with which he currently controls the fate of more than 100 players. One of them, Darío Benedetto, has ended up becoming one of its partners, and is both a player and also a shareholder in Elche. “I’m a successful person, that’s very annoying. Since I’ve worked in places like Tijuana, everyone tries to turn it around, but I work thinking about football as a lawyer, nothing more,” he explained two years ago, agreeing with an investigation by the Argentine police, who entered his offices in Buenos Aires to look for evidence of links with groups of radical fans of the Independiente de Avellaneda, a club that came to have at the same time a sports director, a coach and five players representing Bragarnik. A good friend of Chiqui Tapia, the president of the Argentine Federation, Bragarnik was in charge of managing Maradona’s last years of professional life: first he took him to Mexico and then to the Gimnasia de la Plata.

Scarface’s photograph

“He is the most powerful person in Argentine football right now. He has tentacles in many clubs. One of the novelties he has brought is that he is the representative of many coaches at the same time. He moves them from one club to another. When he appears an option for one of his coaches to sign for a good team, he is in charge of another of his own to take the position he leaves in. He controls the sports part of many clubs, especially the Defensa y Justicia, the Unión de Santa Fe, the Godoy Cruz and the Independent “, explains the journalist Roberto Parrottino. His first big hit in Argentina was with Defensa y Justicia, a modest club in the southern neighborhoods of Buenos Aires that he bought when he played in the Third Division, and which has led to the Copa Sudamericana in 2020. “More Beyond the controversy, we have to accept that he has a good taste for football and that he creates projects that play very well, such as Defense and Justice “, adds Parrottino. In Chile it controls the Union the Limekiln, a club of First where it exerts of president in the shade. And it has also entered the Uruguayan and Bolivian markets. When Parrottino interviewed him in his Buenos Aires office, Bragarnik greeted him with a large photo of Al Pacino playing gangster Tony Montana in Brian de Palma’s film Scarface. Bragarnik had two bullets on the table and joked that after passing through Mexico he liked to play with what people said about him. “I haven’t found a movie that represents me as much as Scarface. And I’ve lived in Mexico, close to it all, “he said provocatively.

For the past two years he has been controlling the fate of Elche, where he has brought a number of players he represents. The Bragarnik empire continues to grow and has already arrived in Europe, a city he first met in 2005, when he was accompanied by striker Lucas Valdemarín, one of those whom he made videos on VHS when he was a stranger. .



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