“Soccer? Go see bowls”. The failed and unexpected debut of Fernando Niembro as a journalist for LA NACION

With a long career in the media and also linked to politics, Fernando Niembro awakens love and hate among those who follow his comments on broadcasts of football matches on TV or through the radio. He’s not exactly someone who goes unnoticed. Each phrase of his has a seal. You can match or not, but your search is to try to leave a concept. A style at times sharp, sarcastic, at others didactic, every weekend his work usually finds a quick viralization in social networks. Be it because he talks too much, because he contradicts himself, because he defends a soccer line or, in other times for “putting sandwiches” related to politics or directly a PNT, such as those of a well-known travel insurance company.

Chiche Niembro with Marcelo Grandío

A self-confessed supporter of Nueva Chicago since childhood, by family inheritance through his father Paulino (he was a union member of the Metallurgical Workers Union), today Niembro, 74 years old, keeps his journalistic spirit intact. Although he could never completely get rid of the political profile. He had to perform as Media Secretary of the Presidency of the Nation in 1991, in driving times of Carlos Saul Menem. His last political incursion with the PRO did not end well: he headed the list of candidates for national deputy for the Province of Buenos Aires for the Cambiemos Front, but resigned in September 2015 due to complaints about contracts between his production company (La Usina) and the Government. of the City of Buenos Aires.

Thus, he remained away from the microphones for a while. Until he slowly came back. Some participation in soccer debate programs on ESPN, until landing as a commentator in the local tournament matches, in May 2021, after six years of absence. He did it on the Fox Sports screen, accompanied by Bambino Pons in the stories, in the match between Independiente and Huracán. He does not have to work in the main matches, those of Boca and River, in which each signal has its team of specialists already constituted.

Fernando Niembro in Casa Rosada
Fernando Niembro in Casa RosadaFernando Massobrio – THE NATION

Known as “Chiche” among his closest friends and acquaintances, In the last few hours, an old video went viral in which he was interviewed by Marcelo Grandío on the program “Shout it out in private.” And he told an unmissable anecdote of his entry, as a teenager, in LA NACION. His beginnings in sports journalism. In the newsroom, at that time on San Martín Street, near Corrientes Avenue, in the lower part of Buenos Aires, he received the enthusiastic Fernando, none other than Alberto Layaan eminence of journalism, head of the Sports Section, teacher of teachers and who wrote a weekly column, called “Mirador Deportivo”, under his pseudonym: Olympic. Later, the newsroom would move near there, to Bouchard at 500 (next to the Luna Park stadium, and more recently to Vicente López.

Trainer of generations of journalists, Laya, who died in 1996, stopped Niembro’s overwhelming momentum, causing him enormous disappointment with his first task in the newsroom. The “rookie” rubbed his hands thinking about what soccer game he would comment on in his debut on the pages of LA NACION and when he asked, he got a blow with the blunt answer. “Alberto, which court am I going to?” Niembro asked. “Court? Noooo, you have no party. You are going to do open water swimming”Laya replied. “And she sent me to the waterfront, to see a test in which 10 or 20 people jumped from the monument to Lola Mora, who swam, went to a buoy, touched the buoy and came back. And I was in a boat next to it, watching how they swam,” Niembro said.

Which continued with his story. “When I came, I said ‘well, he didn’t give me a game, but he’s going to give me the next one, because the chronicle I’m going to make of this round trip swimming to the buoy is going to be extraordinary’. When I arrived, I arrived agitated, I was going to write my first note, I was going to write it in LA NACION. and i asked him ‘how much space do I have?’ Answered me ‘half veneer’. When the other Sunday I went with expectations to play a game, the same situation. Y they sent me to make bowls… the smooth ones had beaten the striped ones”.

Time has passed, but Niembro never forgot that talk with Alberto Laya and the curious beginning of his journalistic career that, of course, was not as he had imagined.

Fernando Niembro was awarded for journalistic work for hosting La Oral Deportiva
Fernando Niembro was awarded for journalistic work for hosting La Oral Deportiva