They called him ‘the Poet’. It wasn’t a tribute to his personality, nor was it a celebration of his lyrical, joyful expressions on the pitch. It couldn’t have been, he was one of those lowly goalkeepers. The nickname owed to his love of poetry, and the many verses he wrote. A number of his poems opened with ‘Oh Peñarol, yo te saludo..’ Continue reading “Roberto Chery”
Uruguayans are fiercely loyal, but they’re even more demanding. They cling onto past achievements while expecting they be surpassed. These expectations weigh down not only those who don the sky blue shirt, but those who represent the country’s two big clubs, Peñarol and Nacional. Continue reading “5-0”
Last month, I wrote about the Clásico de la Fuga, the match where that dominant Peñarol team, La Máquina, came out an utterly dominated their lowly rivals. Well, for forty-five minutes. Nacional refused to play the second half, afraid of losing by 5 or 6, and they were to never hear the end of it. Continue reading “8 against 11”
It appears that an ongoing theme of this blog is Uruguay’s central role in almost every key moment in football history, whether it be in its own region, or worldwide. Such a role obviously includes the most prestigious South American tournament, the Copa Libertadores. Continue reading “April 19, 1960: the first match of the Copa Libertadores”
I trusted everything Eduardo Galeano wrote about football. I still do. His writing was as authoritative as it was beautiful. He told us about those crazy English, who brought their exclusive game to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and those lowly Creoles, who seized the pastime of the elite and made it their own. Continue reading “John Harley: the Scot who transformed Uruguayan football”
The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots. In this fin de siècle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not profitable. Nobody earns a thing from that crazy feeling that for a moment turns a man into a child playing with a balloon like a cat with a ball of yarn, a ballet dancer who romps with a ball as light as a balloon or a ball of yarn, playing without even knowing he’s playing, with no purpose or clock or referee.
Play has become spectacle, with few protagonists and many spectators, soccer for watching. And that spectacle has become one of the most profitable businesses in the world, organized not for play but rather to impede it. The technocracy of professional sport has managed to impose a soccer of lightning speed and brute strength, a soccer that negates joy, kills fantasy and outlaws daring.
Luckily, on the field you can still see, even if only once in a long while, some insolent rascal who sets aside the script and commits the blunder of dribbling past the entire opposing side, the referee, and the crowd in the stands, all for the carnal delight of embracing the forbidden adventure of freedom.
-Eduardo Galeano, Football in Sun and Shadow