Remembering Nelson Vivas’ Epic Meltdown (video)

On May 6th, 2017, Boca Juniors were playing an Argentine league match in the city of La Plata at the home of Estudiantes.  In Round 23 of a 30-game season, Boca Juniors were trying to pull away from the pack and extend their lead at the top of the league table, where they had been since Round 13.  Estudiantes, managed by Nelson Vivas, were at the top of the table from Round 3 until Boca took over at Round 13.  Estudiantes had slipped considerably since they relinquished their position at the top of the table.  Facing Boca, Estudiantes were at their lowest point of the season; In 8th place and outside of the top-four first time all year.

Estudiantes are desperate to revive their season and finish top-four, where they would automatically qualify for next year’s Copa Libertadores.  Their hot-headed manager Nelson Vivas is desperate too, having let their first place position slip seven places down the table.  Before becoming the Estudiantes manager, Nelson Vivas was an accomplished right-back.  After playing for Boca Juniors for 3 seasons, Vivas was signed by Arsenal in 1998 and would spend 3 seasons playing under manager Arsène Wenger.  He would then play for Inter Milan and River Plate, before retiring at Quilmes in 2005 where he made his professional debut 15 years earlier.  Along the way, he made 39 appearances for the Argentine National Team, participating in the 1995 and 1997 Copa America, as well as the 1998 World Cup in France.

Back to the match, and in the 25th minute, Estudiantes have a penalty claim.  With three Estudiantes players in the penalty box, Estudiantes right-back Facundo Sánchez put in an early cross only to be headed away by Boca Juniors center-back Santiago Vergini.  However, Boca Juniors goalkeeper Agustín Rossi also came out to punch the ball clear and instead clattered into Estudiantes midfielder Juan Cavallaro who went for the header and instead was knocked cold on the ground.  It is unclear whether Rossi’s attempted punch made contact with the ball as his defender headed it away.  What was clear was that the 150-pound Cavallaro was no match for the 210-pound Rossi, who was rushing out of his goal to ensure that Estudiantes would not capitalize off the cross.  Cavallaro also took an elbow to the side of the head and hit the ground with force.

Like any massive club, Boca Juniors are known for getting the benefit of the doubt from the referee when it comes to close calls and this occasion was no different, much to the disgust of Nelson Vivas.  After verbally abusing what appeared to be the assistant referee (not caught on camera), the 4th official let Vivas know that he had been thrown out of the match.  Enraged, Vivas confronted the assistant referee once more, where he had to be held back by his players and the 4th official.  The Estudiantes manager started to walk away, only to rip open his button-down shirt Hulk-style.  He then walked down the sideline punching the air and kicking a microphone, before removing his shirt completely and exposing his tattoo-covered back as he walked into the tunnel toward the locker rooms.

The match ended 0-0, and Nelson Vivas’ antics surely fired up the crowd as well as his players.  The match was a positive turning point in the season for Estudiantes.  It was the start of a good run to finish off the season where they would finish third in the league, qualifying themselves for the Copa Libertadores.  Boca Juniors, on the other hand, would go on to win the league.

This was not the first time that anger got the best of Nelson Vivas.  His first managerial position came in 2013 with Quilmes, who were playing in the first division of Argentina at the time.  However, the job was short-lived as he was fired for running into the stands to beat up a supporter of his own team who was heckling him.

In the video below, Vivas responded to a heckler by telling him to wait where he was so they could fight once the match ended.  He also encouraged the fan to fight by mocking him and telling him “You don’t have the balls [to fight].”  Vivas pointed to his watch, telling the fan that he had three minutes until the game ended to shut up, or else Vivas would go up there to fight him.  As soon as the final whistle blew, Vivas sprinted into the stands and beat up the Quilmes fan, before being pulled away by several policemen.  The battered Quilmes supporter then left the stadium, only to be insulted by other Quilmes supporters who were calling him a “disgrace” and “anti-Quilmes” for the fight that he instigated.

Nelson Vivas retired from managing in December 2017 so he could spend more time with his nine-year-old daughter.


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