Scan footage of the pageantry before Chivas de Guadalajara’s 2005 Copa Libertadores match against Boca Juniors at the legendary Bombonera in Buenos Aires and you may spot a younger version of a now-familiar face.
A teenage Amaury Vergara is there on the sideline with a video camera in his hands. It’s a perfect encapsulation of how Vergara, now the owner and president of Chivas, has always mixed his two passions: Football and film.
The 33-year-old’s focus since his father Jorge’s death in 2019 has been running Chivas and Grupo Omnilife, the nutritional supplement company Jorge started in 1991. Yet even with that responsibility now on his shoulders, he hasn’t turned away from his love of cinema.
“People will say he could lose something by thinking about one or the other, but I think that’s a serious mistake because I think it’s the opposite,” said filmmaker Ruben Bañuelos, who knew Amaury from the Guadalajara film scene and later directed Chivas: La Película. “He takes things from each of the worlds he lives in, and he applies it to the other. That makes him such a different and refreshing person in the world of soccer.”
Those fresh ideas and a global perspective help him overcome being thrown into such a demanding position his young age, says Olimpia Cabral Rodriguez, Director of Commercial and Marketing for Chivas.
“Amaury definitely is a young leader, but we have a lot to learn from him. It’s a pleasure to work with him because he’s very clear, very human. I would call him ‘Jorge Reloaded’ in terms of vision,” Cabral said. “Amaury is someone who listens, analyzes, understands and supports. It’s really easy because he gives you a guide.”
“There are two meetings we have each week, and let me tell you that not just for me but for the rest of the team, the directors of the other departments, believe me they’re two days we look forward to,” she continued.
Wait, hold on. Vergara even makes you excited about going to work meetings? “No, they’re really cool!” Cabral says when questioned. “A lot of meetings you say, ‘Ugh!’ But these ones you look forward to. Honestly!”
In many ways, each of his dual passions were in Amaury’s blood. Just before purchasing Chivas, Jorge produced the groundbreaking Mexican film "Y Tu Mamá También," which, among other lasting impacts on the world of Mexican cinema, launched Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna to stardom.
It also set up a lasting partnership between Jorge Vergara and Alfonso Cuarón, one that later would result in a young Amaury joining the now Oscar-winning director on the set of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Amaury would later bemoan that his scenes as an extra were cut from the film, but he loved the experience.
In addition to Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro is another of Amaury’s film idols, and Bañuelos said he often gets to see Amaury geek out over the types of things that excite fellow movie buffs.
“The day it came out, the first message I got that day was from him about the 'Dune' trailer, the (Denis) Villenuve film. He’s a fan of (Francis Ford) Coppola. Hijole! I could go on and on,” Bañuelos said. “We always talk about a lot of movies, the influences, the movies he saw as a kid, whether it be 'The Goonies,' 'Empire of the Sun,' Spielberg. One time in Guadalajara they put '2001: A Space Odyssey' on in a theater in Guadalajara, and we went to see it and we went crazy.”
More than just a fan of film, Amaury still works to be involved in the industry. Bañuelos said Amaury was credited as an executive producer of "Chivas: La Película," not out of symbolism but for the work he did on the film, both from a creative perspective and clearing hurdles put up by Mexican soccer organizations that didn’t understand the premise behind providing behind-the-scenes access that has become common to sports fans in the U.S. and Europe.
Amaury is still combining his passions, with Bañuelos working on a yet unannounced series involving the club and rumors abounding that the team will do a film or TV tribute to its championship teams of glory days gone by.
In a way, Vergara’s life is its own Hollywood story, as he combines some of his biggest childhood passions and looks to bring his dreams to life.
“I think he’s just now starting an era that will be amazing for Chivas and also for him because he’s living his own movie script,” Bañuelos said. “What’s happened to him in the last year and a half doesn’t happen to just any person. I think it’s taking him to good places, and what’s coming in his story will be very interesting.”
Of course, Amaury would love to put a happy ending on the film.
“Maybe people thought it was going to be a tough road for him and his family, but I think he’s doing things really well. As a player, I can tell you he’s responded really well despite this pandemic that we’re in,” Chivas winger Isaac Brizuela said. "We know it’s not easy to manage a club of this magnitude, but like I said he’s doing things really well. I’m sure Amaury will soon have his first trophy in his hands.”
This is part two in a three-part series examining the legacy of Chivas and its future as a world-renowned soccer club.