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Love Him or Hate Him, Vergara Still Charming Chivas

Jorge Vergara's straightforward but often defiant style, witnessed in small part by his refusal to wear socks (like, ever), "hasn't always played well in the button-down Mexican business world," but "it's not the only sector of Mexican society the iconoclastic Vergara is shaking up," claims Kevin Baxter on location in the capital of Jalisco. "In the seven years since he bought the financially troubled Chivas de Guadalajara soccer team, Vergara has been hailed and hated, loved and loathed -- often at the same time by the same people."

Now "the face of the Chivas franchise," Vergara is best described as "a graying, bilingual, motorcycle-riding 54-year-old who made his millions peddling nutritional supplements and whose passion, critics say, clouds his judgment." But for all his critics, and there are many, it's hard to argue with success that has recently included "a record 11th national championship, becoming profitable again," and plans to move into "a modern, 45,500-seat artificial-turf stadium shaped like a volcano with a cloud on top."

While Vergara's controversial tactics include having a hand in a carousel of nine coaches in his seven years (including three in a disastrous 17-day span), ruthless negotiating for TV rights ("Vergara once kept his team off TV for two weeks until Mexican TV giant Televisa paid an unprecedented $200 million for Mexican soccer rights"), and meddling in coaching decisions (see the demoting of striker Carlos Ochoa), at least for now, the means seem to justify the end results, which has Chivas' popularity "at an all-time high."


Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times »

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