The peace and tranquility of the Parque Sarmiento de Córdoba Capital was interrupted, on the morning of that July 30, 2004, by a thunderous sound coming from the pergola of the plaza. A body lay on a cement bench. On one side was a pack of Parliament cigarettes; on the other, a 9 millimeter pistol. One of the passers-by who heard the shot approached the scene and notified the Police immediately. Fabián Madorrán, by then a former referee, had decided to end his life.
16 years after his death, his inner circle spoke for the first time of an event riddled with myths and rumors that moved Argentine soccer. The incomprehensible ending still generates impotence and pain. Diving in the most intimate part of the character invites you to reflect and learn about the torments he went through.
THE FAITHFUL FRIEND
In the South Zone of Greater Buenos Aires, Madorrán began to become devoted to the passion that most children and adolescents pursue: football. However, he found a different vein than usual: his technical conditions with the ball prevented him from dreaming of succeeding as a player, although he also looked on the field of play but dressed in black and imparting justice.
He was 15 years old when he started refereeing some pasture bites in front of his house in Lanús. And although from time to time he put on the shorts when one was missing to complete the teams, he took a liking to refereeing and almost without realizing it he projected a professional career.
The memories will remember an image from the year 2001, when he was appointed to direct a Almagro-Boca on the court of Ferro, and a camera captured him in the foreground singing the historic song “I follow you everywhere, I love you more and more” at unison with La 12 (there are those who say that the phrase was dedicated to his girlfriend, who was in the audience that night). Was he a xeneize sympathizer? Yes. Was he a fanatic? Not at all. Madorrán had the same degree of passion for Boca as that of any individual disinterested in soccer that when consulted for his painting he responds by inertia and hereditary obligation.
His neatness, presence and commitment to justice were letters of introduction in the AFA to join the arbitration body. Perhaps he was missing 3 or 4 centimeters to be the ideal reference model sought by FIFA, but Madorrán began his career showing potential at the domestic and international level, an area that he traveled for five years.
Several former colleagues recall that after performing the physical tests at the Cenard, they met in a band to walk the 450 meters that separated the training ground from the Red and Black bar located on Avenida Crisólogo Larralde and shared a meal. There Madorrán often got up from the table quickly and paid for the drinks of the 10, 15 or 20 people who were with him. The same at a year-end referee party at the Hotel Bauen that lasted until the wee hours of the morning and concluded with a breakfast at his invitation – impossible to refuse – in a nearby bar.
His detachment from money made him notice, moreover, when he had to lead an international cup match abroad. Conmebol gave the referees a prize of $ 1,000 and it was common for Fabián to stop several minutes in the Free Shop to buy perfumes and other items that, for the most part, would be given to his loved ones. “He was a generous guy, with a lot of heart”, described by those who knew him the most.
In the parties in which he was appointed he always came with a procession made up of friends and friends of his friends. He presented himself firmly to the police authorities and made everyone pass: “The boys are with me”. Even groups of 15 men have entered the Argentine courts thanks to Madorrán, who served as a bowling public relations officer before putting people in a VIP. And, after the game, everyone was invited to eat pizza. He paid everything, of course. “Fabián’s pizza and the third period were the best thing that refereeing had”, they recall. The luckiest ones were lucky to take some of their cards, balls or even a local team jersey, as happened once in Chacarita or Unión de Santa Fe, with a complete game.
Within the referato he made several friends and sponsored one who later showed some of his characteristics and style: Pablo Lunati. Madorran had inherited the line of Javier Castrilli, rigorous, blunt referee, red card in hand at all times. And to that he added some personal nuances. Histrionic and comfortable in front of the cameras, he hinted at a kind of acting facet.
Madorran (class 65) and Lunati (67) forged a close relationship, training together. During the week they exercised, on Saturdays he generally directed Lunati (on the ascent up there) and on Sundays Madorrán (in Primera). The trust became such that there were unpublished confessions between each other. “No one ever asked me about him and I assure you that since I know about his life, nobody knows”Lunati says to Infobae.
“At the time it bothered me that they said he was homosexual because at that time he was singled out, criticized, and based on that they discriminated against one. I cried a lot for the helplessness of being able to show it or not ”, Madorrán said on the television program Virtual Soccer in 99, when he was chosen by colleagues and arbitrators as the most outstanding in his field. At that time he also resigned from triple A (Argentine Referees Association) and joined SADRA (Union of Sports Referees of the Argentine Republic). This is not why one of the most pampered by the president of the AFA Julio Humberto Grondona.
Lunati has no qualms about touching this “taboo within football” that unfortunately was much more so two decades ago. “We had different lives because I had a wife and children and he had a male partner. Each one made his life and respected the other. With me he never had problems talking about his homosexuality and many times we discussed why he didn’t make it public, ”says the person who named him as godfather to one of his children.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Some excesses took their toll on his valued work. His performance in a Promotion between Institute and Argentinos Juniors in Córdoba, in which he annulled two goals for the La Paternal team and provoked the anger of Checho Batista for having vehemently expelled Mariano Herrón, captain of the Bicho, marked a turning point in his career.
The professional care that he had strictly complied with at the beginning was no longer such. He frequented discos and that brought him problems in his relationship with his partner. He acquired a certain amount of carelessness, which was later revealed on the weekends when he had to take out cards. “One day we had a very deep talk, but Fabián was half stubborn, he said yes and it went in one ear and out the other. He was afraid of drugs, but he went out a lot at night, drank too much alcohol and smoked too much. He was making a lot of mistakes in games and when you make so many mistakes so many times in a row, there is something you are not doing well ”Lunati reflects.
He had neglected training with his personal trainer and only his genetics and privileged physique allowed him to continue taking the tests required by the AFA.
“Do you know how many times he woke up with missed calls from Fabián at 3 or 4 in the morning? Capable of drinking alcohol, watching a movie, becoming melancholic and making him talk. But I had to train the next day and I couldn’t always attend to him. I was close to getting to Primera and had to sleep. As much as he was my friend, I had to separate things. Many times I said to him bi Fabián stop smoking, stop drinking, stop going out at night. ’ I am not one of those friends who say everything yes, many times he liquidated it and stopped talking to me for weeks ”, confesses Lunati, another of the judges most loved by Grondona. His low performances were increasingly recurring, as well as scandals in different parties.
Most of his colleagues had appreciated his selfless generosity, but not everyone liked that style. He was furious when his heterosexuality was put on trial and he heard under his breath that he was linked to the “Pink Command”, but more people claim that there was never discrimination in arbitration against him. In fact, during a preseason of the referees in Mar del Plata they made fun of his constant leading role and naturalness to host each extra-labor gala and they gave him a statuette for being the star of the group, something he took sarcastically.
“I spoke many times about his homosexuality and last time I said‘ crazy, you have to say it to free your soul, to be happy. If it makes you happy because it’s your nature, you have to say it and get it out of you. ’ He replied that it was not the time, but that he was going to do it ”Lunati adds.
He had become a chain smoker and did not hide some eccentricities, such as immediately replacing the loss of a gold Dupont lighter valued at $ 800 because it ensured that cigarettes had a different taste when lit with that particular one.
The biggest flaw in Madorrán, in which all the interviewees for this article agreed (there were those who did not answer and others who preferred to preserve their name due to the delicacy of the matter despite being close), was his vice for the game. He was habituated in the floating Casino of Puerto Madero, where he met other personalities related to sports. From the Poker table to the Black Jack, from having a glass of whiskey or Tia Maria (served in coffee cups) to drinking two or three, from smoking a cigarette to three whole packages. What started as a hobby turned into an unbridled bad habit and damaged his healthy routine.
“Fabián’s problem was himself, his head”. The scores of his performances were getting lower and the reports of the College of Referees began to be lapidary.
Grondona pondered him for the technical and physical category that he exhibited at his best, but he was also aware of the public rumors of his homosexuality and was clear that his file should be handled with extreme caution. Leaving a referee out for his sexual choice could demand a political cost from him because of FIFA’s strict line drops that rejected xenophobia and discrimination.
The trigger for his abrupt departure from the referendum was the game he led between Independiente and River in the Double Visor for the first leg of the knockout stages of the 2003 Copa Sudamericana. El Millonario thrashed Rojo 4-1 with a triplet by Fernando Cavenaghi (one goal was taco) and a goal by Rolfi Montenegro (Bruno Marioni discounted) . In the first part, he annulled a goal by Independiente -at the request of the line Juan Carlos Rebollo- due to an offside that existed, and considered that there was no Nelson Vivas penalty to the Chilean Olarra in a controversial maneuver that exacerbated all the locals. It would be a fallacy to affirm that it had an impact on a result that ended comfortably due to the terrible work of the defense of the team led by Oscar Ruggeri against an illuminated front of that of Engineer Pellegrini. But this comparison put him back at the center of the controversy and it was the drop that overflowed the glass.
Days before this match, a recognized and high manager of the Red one had crossed it to Madorrán in a table of the Casino and suggested, with laughter, that he would advance some chips if he gave him a hand in the Cup match. His answer was evidenced by 1-4.
Grondona got fed up with the media repercussion she had and was aware of her excesses in private life. There he took away his immunity. On September 28, 2003, eleven days after the Independiente-River, he was appointed to what would be the last commitment of his career, a Chacarita-Banfield which ended with a 3-0 win for the Drill. From the Referees’ School they demanded their withdrawal and the AFA Executive Committee granted the request. “The separation is due to physical aspects and technical evaluations, within the legal and conventional framework”, they argued through an official statement.
In one of his last excursions through the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association located on Viamonte Street, he was approached by a journalist who asked him what would become of his future away from arbitration … “I dont know”, managed to respond with a lost look and about to break. It was one of his last public appearances.
In parallel to his work as a sports judge and as a complement to his friendly relationship, Madorrán had become a partner of Lunati in a business. They had a maxi kiosk where they made room for 20 computers in the cyber boom. Although they were doing very well, one day he said enough. “Pablo, I’m going to Córdoba”. He sold his share of the business and packed the bags.
The shock that the expulsion from arbitration caused him, when he had in mind to continue directing for another decade, was terrible. In addition, he suffered from the definitive breakdown of the relationship with the couple he had had for about seven years. And it is worth noting that the same generosity that he showed with his peers was replicated at the family level, taking care of his parents and a brother who suffered from schizophrenia and needed medications that he paid for religiously. He needed to clear his head as soon as possible.
His ego and lifestyle were severely affected. From being on television and starring every weekend to being practically unknown. From living with 100 to living with 30. From having dedicated a large part of his life to a career and being forced to leave the profession. He realized that he had had many “Friends of the champion”, those that only appear in good times. His world was falling apart and he did not know how to cope. All the chips fell at once. It was too many hits together to someone crying out for affection and restraint.
Why Córdoba? He shuffled some drinking destinations to get away from the flashes and noise of a Buenos Aires in which he was still a matter of debate due to his recent departure from football. Constantly keeping in mind that he would no longer be a part made him sad. Chivilcoy was the other finalist site for his escape but finally he leaned towards the Cordovan land, where he had a friendly partner who had supported him in his most difficult moment. He settled in his department until he settled his accounts and started his new business.
Lunati and Madorrán have probably shared moments together in the professional upward curve of one and the downward curve of the other. The fate of chance meant that the same year that he debuted in First One, the other was killed. And paradoxically a decade later (July 30, 2014) Grondona passed away, a very important man for both of us.
“More than me, nobody knew what was going through his head. If he ever told me that if he left the arbitration he would kill himself? Yes he told me” Lunati’s phrase is an echo of what Madorrán had commented, as if it were a joke, on more than one occasion to his colleagues.
In early 2004, he carried out the move and settled in Córdoba, where he sought refuge with some friends. The city was optimal for him because he liked its airs, he thought that he would feel contained and would move away from the focus of attention. He enjoyed during the first weeks of his free time and even attended some games of Workshops (for whom he generated sympathy for a close friend) and Belgrano at the Mario Alberto Kempes stadium, then called Chateau Carreras. He even devoted some time to religion, attending mass in a Catholic church in the Cordovan capital. The letters were lying.
The last psychic stiletto was recorded the week before his suicide. Madorrán had obtained a loan through an acquaintance to mortgage the house he had bought from his parents in Remedios de Escalada, Buenos Aires province. The sum was 10 thousand dollars. With cash in hand, he sought to “play the heroic” to recover the money at the Puerto Madero Casino. On Sunday July 25 at night he traveled by bus from Córdoba to Capital Federal. On Monday he processed the mortgage and from Tuesday he went into the float. He planned to return on Wednesday, but he stayed 48 hours until he put the last weight on the table, without paying attention to the calls and messages that were on his cell phone. Financially cornered because his trial with the AFA was not prospering, and devastated in the mood, he undertook the return to Córdoba.
His intimates highlight a terrible detail: he had everything so coldly calculated that he triggered the Beretta pistol resting the tip on his palate in a northerly direction, a highly effective execution that leaves no room for failure. He chose the pergola of the Sarmiento Cordovan Park because it was a place that had visual contact with the friend’s apartment where he lived and where He left two letters: one for his lawyer and the other with instructions.
In his will he clarified that with the sale of the cyber machines the mortgage could be lifted. His clothes were entrusted to his brother and he left some things for the couple who had hosted him. He allocated a part of the money from the trial that he would earn the AFA for his family, another for his lawyer, a minimum percentage for his hosts in Córdoba and another for a very close person who had had time ago.
“With Monday’s newspaper, I was not surprised that it ended as it ended. What happened was within the possibilities. Now you see everything and you realize that he was not right in the head. It was mainly for having left the arbitration, but it was the set of things ”. Sixteen years after the heartbreaking news, Lunati, who traveled with Madorrán’s mother to Córdoba a few days later, is still trying to find an explanation that he will not find no matter how many times he gives the matter.
The world of refereeing and soccer still mourns the loss of Fabián Madorrán, who had a story that invites reflection.
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