Thanks to a 2006 law, which allowed lands deemed to have been taken illegally during the dictatorship to be returned to their original owners, the club's zealous fans have launched various legal projects to recuperate the grounds of their original stadium. After many years of aggressive legal jockeying, and huge protests -- that in one recent case saw more than 100,000 fans turn out -- San Lorenzo's supporters received a major coup last November when Buenos Aires's legislature decided unanimously in favor of returning the club's stadium to Boedo. The legislature covertly decided to vote a week earlier than planned to avoid a rush of elated San Lorenzo fans, but news of the vote quickly spread and the "cuervos," or crows, as they call themselves, spilled out into the streets to celebrate.
But further challenges lie ahead. Now the team must reach a settlement with Carrefour, as well as gather $18.8 million to pay the supermarket chain as compensation. Though on its own the club's wallet is thin, it claims to have already amassed over half of this sum by appealing to loyal fan base which -- in addition to Francis I (whose donation history is unknown or nonexistent) -- includes Viggo Mortensen, the Lord of the Rings heartthrob who spent part of his childhood in Buenos Aires and donated money to build the club's chapel in 2010.
After the settlement lurks the more formidable challenge of building a new stadium, a task that promises to be far more expensive. San Lorenzo has already begun rolling out plans for the building, which would be eco-friendly and hold 40,000 fans.
While Francis I has never publically spoken about the club's battle to reclaim its original land, San Lorenzo's homecoming would undoubtedly have sentimental value for the pope, who hasn't attended a live game since he assumed his duties as a priest in 1969, during the era of the original Estadio Gasómetro.
"The dream of every San Lorenzo fan is to return to our holy land, and now, with a San Lorenzo fan as the pope, we are closer than ever" says Diego Filmus, 33. Luciano Garcia, another San Lorenzo devotee from a neighborhood close to the old stadium, explains: "It would allow us to fully reclaim our identity and culture."