Soccer great Ronaldinho may help unlock media elite for Mexican magnate
By Gabriel Stargardter
QUERETARO, Mexico Feb 27 (Reuters) - When Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho signed for struggling Mexican team Queretaro in September, Olegario Vazquez Aldir, the club's new owner, took a step closer to becoming the country's next media mogul.
Although Ronaldinho, a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, is well past his best, he is still one of the glitziest footballers ever to play in Mexico and signing him for $2 million a year was a coup for Vazquez Aldir as he uses soccer to muscle into Mexico's plutocrats' club.
The second-generation boss of privately owned media, hotels, construction and hospitals firm Grupo Empresarial Angeles (GEA), Vazquez Aldir is widely expected to land at least one of two new public television networks to be auctioned in March.
If he wins, the 42-year-old Vazquez Aldir will gain a new avenue to shape public opinion and strengthen his business empire.
And because Mexican soccer teams sell their TV rights, Ronaldinho, 34, could help lure viewers and advertisers to the new network and allow Vazquez Aldir to cash in on the market of millions of soccer-mad Mexican fans in the United States.
"This couldn't have been a better opportunity for us," Vazquez Aldir told a news conference after buying Queretaro.
By acquiring the club, Vazquez Aldir also boosts his own profile, joining the likes of telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim, broadcaster Televisa's Emilio Azcarraga and TV Azteca's Ricardo Salinas, whose soccer teams bolstered their media empires and political clout.
After buying Leon and Pachuca in 2012, Slim took their games off free-to-air TV, a duopoly controlled by rivals Televisa and TV Azteca, and distributed them over his online channels while selling the pay-TV rights to Fox Sports in Mexico and Telemundo in the United States. Continuación...