Racing Club are one of the cinco grandes — or big five — in Argentinian club football. They possess a history of success and innovation, being the first club from South America to win the Intercontinental Cup in 1967.
Recently Racing have slightly regressed, but the future looks bright for the Avellaneda based club due to a number of changes in the leadership structure.
After Diego Cocca went through a lean period, it seemed like he had completely lost the team, he was sacked as a result. His replacement was the energetic Chacho Coudet.
Another very significant appointment was that of Diego Milito as Director of Football. He enjoyed a brilliant career as a player even lifting the Champions League with Inter Milan, and he is a Racing Club legend. The fans were jubilant when they heard of the news, and they are also extremely satisfied with the new manager.
Obviously, Milito learned a lot from Europe, as the ideas he and his team are trying to implement have the potential to revolutionise Argentinian football forever.
The club are focusing on the importance of modernisation, Milito and his team are trying to establish commercial partnerships and links all over the world. In a country that is fairly isolationist, this is extremely new and a breath of fresh air to the Superliga.
In order to find out more about what Racing are trying to do, Youssef Amin spoke to Diego Huerta, the assistant to the club’s technical secretary — Milito’s right hand man.
His English is perfect, he is obviously well educated, and most importantly he is a very nice guy, perfect for the job he is doing.
First of all, would you be able to tell us more about yourself and your background?
I am 30 years old. I have been a Racing fan since childhood, and my whole family are Racing fans.
I was born in Avallaneda and I have lived there for most of my life. I love football but I have never tried to play professionally, largely because I wasn’t good enough. So I focused more on studying.
I studied journalism and history at university, after that I worked in different medias, one of the jobs with Marti Perarnau. I got in touch with him to try and learn more about how European clubs manage in terms of transfers and organisation. I toured many clubs and explored their management style, visiting clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Madrid, Milan and many more.
How did your role at the club come about?
I Presented a project to the club in 2014, it got rejected I but got in touch with guys inside the club.
One of the people I know introduced me to the man who runs amateur/youth football there. I presented my vision and I got a job.
From 2016 until 2017 my job was providing tactical analysis and statistics for various lower level teams at the club, when Diego MIlito was appointed I was promoted to assist the technical secretary.
What does your current role involve?
One side is the sports and video analysis, studying players in youth system in all of the age groups and discussing with the directors of the academy to judge their performance. I also prepare tactical analysis for the youth coaches.
The other part of my job, which is more administrative, is to try and establish links with foreign clubs to develop projects, transfer links, and deliver contacts to try and make a name for Racing all over the world.
What is it like to work with Diego Milito?
Diego is a big name and an icon of Racing, but at the same time he’s starting a new part of his life this year. It’s a challenge for us and I’m really excited and honoured to be part of his team.
It’s not easy at Racing because we are not a Boca [Juniors] or a River [Plate] and we don’t have the international recognition these teams already possess.
Luckily, we’ve improved, and our branding campaigns are successful. Now we are starting to attract more fans all over the world. What we are trying to do is to capitalise on the players we have produced in recent years to make Racing a well-known name in world football, and open business possibilities for the club.
What does your plan to commercialise the club and start links with clubs around the world involve?
I want to deliver business for the club within our capabilities, and there are big discussions about the structure of leadership every week in Argentina.
What we are trying to do is difficult due to the socio [fan owned] culture of the country. We are trying to open new markets in China, Africa and Europe. We are also trying to make the club a more professional entity, while preserving the ideology of the club and keeping the ideals of a local club.
Even the players feel the Racing way. Come to the club and talk to anyone from the bathroom cleaner to the groundsman, and you will feel the warmth of the club. It has a family feel, the players have a touch of magic. It’s not a factory production line, unlike some teams in Europe.
Do you think what you are trying to do could be successful in Argentina, as the ideas are very new to the country?
It’s difficult because Argentina are stuck in the 20th century. Nowadays you have any information you want from any club in the world, and also any player. We want to exploit that in terms of scouting, as well by delivering more players to Europe.
South American players make European football interesting because they are different, that is due to the fact that they have been raised in a different way.
While we may change the commercial aspect to a more European style, the academy production has to stay South American. We have to stick to our culture which is so successful.
Take a look at Lautaro Martinez, his movements are Argentinian due to the way he has been coached, we want to expand the brand but stay local and focus on our development in the Argentinian way, in order to keep our “La Academia” tag.
How much progress have you made so far, and are you optimistic for the future?
We have started getting in touch with clubs all over the world. My English has helped, but we still want to improve.
We have participated in international youth tournaments, which is something which we have never done before.
We also visited a Chinese club, and Diego recently went to Kuwait. We have started on the path and in a couple of years we hope we can make an impact on the world, and on the Superliga.
I’m very happy with our progress so far, and I am really looking forward to what the next few years will bring for Racing.
Finally, how has your plan been received by the club? Have you got adequate support and help?
Yes, the projects I presented to the club created excitement. The idea has the support of everyone at Racing, I don’t like to talk in personal terms though, it is the idea which has been supported not me.
The club is optimistic about the possibilities commercialism may bring. We have an international relations department which we have used to get in touch with people around the world, not only about football, but about the social, marketing, and business aspects.
The club are hoping that they can make a name for themselves in the international market within the next 5 years, and with Diego [Milito] in charge, we are very excited.