It’s no secret that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is skeptical of the Judiciary Branch as a whole. While she was still in office Fernández de Kirchner repeatedly accused several members of the judiciary of playing political games in order to oust her from power.
Fernández yesterday took her skepticism to a whole new level when, during her testimony in Comodoro Py’s federal courthouses in downtown Buenos Aires, she rejected a glass of water from Judge Julián Ercolini and had a bodyguard hand her a bottle of low-sodium water. “It’s not because I don’t trust you…” She tried to clarify but it was already late to prevent us from wondering if the former president made the decision because she remembered what the Argentine national football team did to Brazilian player Branco in the 1990 World Cup, popularly known as “Branco’s Jug.”
The story is perhaps among the darkest chapter in Argentine football history and took place in the competition’s historic round of 16 match between Argentina and Brazil, definitely the most important derby in South America — and one of the most important in the world.
It was very hot that day and the players took advantage of every break to drink water. Known for his obsessive nature and recurring to any — any — tactic to win, Argentina’s coach, Carlos Bilardo, ordered the team’s physicians to put a sedative in a little green water jug, from which Argentine players were forbidden to drink. The unsportsmanlike strategy had the desired effect on the 39th minute, when a Brazilian player known as “Branco” drank the altered water during a break. Argentina ended up winning that game 1-0 and then lost to Germany in the final.
Years later, Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who took part in the infamous game, recalled the story in an interview with TV show Mar de Fondo: “All the good ones came to drink and I was like ‘please take it, please take it. Then an Argentine player got it and I was like “no, what are you doing!’ I wanted Valdo [a player] to take it. I’d tell him ‘go on Valdito, drink, it’s so hot. But Branco came and drank it all. Then he would take the free kicks and fall. After the game, both team buses were together. Branco looked at me through the window, blaming me. I made gestures saying that I had nothing to do with it,” recalled Maradona.
Ever since, the Brazilian team brings its own water every time it faces off against Argentina on the field. Maybe Fernández recalled the story when she rejected the water yesterday. Or maybe she just likes her particular brand of water (lawmaker Margarita Stolbizer claims the former president only drinks Evian).