Paraguay Goalkeeping Legend Jose Luis Chilavert Comes Fifth In Presidential Election

By News Desk

News • May 2, 2023

Paraguay Goalkeeping Legend Jose Luis Chilavert Comes Fifth In Presidential Election

The maverick goalkeeper ran for the presidency, representing the Youth Party 

Paraguayan goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert was an iconic shot-stopper and expert set-piece taker in the 1990s and 2000s. Chilavert is regarded as one of Paraguay’s greatest-ever goalkeepers and he also caught the eye of the international crowd for his expressive style. 

However, his activities away from football have seen him forage from the posts to politics. After announcing his candidacy for the 2023 Paraguayan general election in the spring of 2022, his inaugural political campaign last night culminated with a fifth placed finish as the country went to the polls.

Chilavert was representing the Youth Party, who won 24,284 (0.83%) of votes. 

Chilavert has been described as sitting on the right wing of the political spectrum, with outspoken views on fighting political corruption in Paraguay, as well as justice and educational reforms. He has been criticised for his reported views on LBGTQ+ issues. 

Upon announcing his campaign last year, Chilavert promised that, if elected, ‘the economy will migrate towards digital’, and there will be a ‘strengthening of education as a pillar of the integral development of Paraguay, the defence of human rights, the welfare and security of all Paraguayans, and economic and labour development.’

He continued: 'it is time for a change; we are the generation that will promote it. We are committed to the young people who are following in our footsteps and to the future ones to come.' 

There was a general surge in support for anti-establishment candidates in this year's election, with the nationalist Partido Cruzada Nacional (National Crusade Party) winning 23.55% of the vote under leader Paraguayo Cubas. Chilavert couldn't harness the momentum as conservative parties continued to strengthen their position in Paraguay. 

The election was won by the incumbent Colorado Party, under former Minister of Finance Santiago Peña. His victories marks the third consecutive election victory for the Colorado Party who have won every election in the country bar one (2008) since 1963, when free and fair elections came into force in Paraguay. 

Nicknamed 'El Buldog', Chilavert spent much of his domestic career playing in South America and had a clear love for the continent, particularly Argentina, where he spent most of his career playing for Vélez Sarsfield.

The marauding goalkeeper also had a humble start to life. He grew up in an impoverished family, where he didn’t have shoes for many of his formative years. But this didn’t stop Chilavert from reaching the very top. In 1998, he captained his beloved Paraguay to the last 16 of the World Cup. He only conceded twice in four matches before his side was eliminated by hosts and eventual winners France after extra time. 

Before hanging up his gloves, Chilavert helped Paraguay reach a second consecutive World Cup in 2002. La Albirroja were, however, eliminated in the group stages this time around.

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