:River Plate recognised Marcelo Gallardo as the most successful coach in the club’s history with the unveiling of a statue at the weekend, but a prominent bulge in the crotch area of the huge bronze has attracted as much mockery as veneration.
The towering statue, which is eight metres tall and weighs 6.3 tonnes, stands outside the Monumental Stadium and depicts a famous image of Gallardo lifting one of the two Copa Libertadores trophies he won with the Buenos Aires club.
According to sculptor Mercedes Savall, the prominence of the trouser bulge, which has already inspired a host of internet memes, was a deliberate feature of the piece and reflected the vulgar local terrace slang for “effort”.
“I exaggerated that part and I understood that it has to do with a gesture towards the fans,” told the Argentine newspaper La Nacion.
“It’s part of the football language and I looked for a way to bring the folk into art and took a shot.”
Savall said the special feature of the statue had been requested by the official overseeing the project, who wanted something similar to the sculpture of the Charging Bull in New York’s Wall Street.
The scrotum of that statue is noticeably lighter in colour as passers-by often rub it looking for a little good luck.
“This is football, fans always ask the players and the manager to ‘put a lot of eggs (effort) into it’ and it was like a subliminal message through the sculpture,” Savall added to the Infobae website.
Gallardo, who won 14 titles for the club from 2014 until his departure in December, was unbothered by the fuss over the exaggerated feature.
“I want to express my gratitude to my family, my friends, my coaching staff and the players who have accompanied us,” he said.
“This club is great for its history, but also for its glories. Thanks to the fans. I will always love you. I grew up in this club and I will die in this club.”
Savall said Gallardo had no direct involvement or objection to the statue.
“Luckily, he didn’t ask for explanations about the statue, he let me work in peace,” she told the newspaper.
Social media was alight with comments on the statue, with some fans calling it an insult.
“Shameful what they did with the statue of #Gallardo. Crude, grotesque, ordinary,” Leo Paradizo said in a post on Twitter.