book excerptise:   a book unexamined is wasting trees

Soccer in sun and shadow

Eduardo H. Galeano and Mark Fried (tr.)

Galeano, Eduardo H.; Mark Fried (tr.);

Soccer in sun and shadow [El Futbol a Sol y Sombra]

Verso, 2003, 244 pages

ISBN 1859844235, 9781859844236

topics: |  soccer |

every line in this book is illuminated by an unmistakable passion. as you turn the pages, you feel a cloying intoxication -- the exhilaration of sports overcomes you...

eduardo galeano is a literary aesthete, known for writing lyrical prose that rivals the best of poetry. here he waxes lyrical on a topic that all of uruguay is mad about.

on this literary rolercoaster, you learn how in the 1958 worldcup, the brazilian players rebelled against the coach and insisted on fielding three players - garrincha, zico, and the teenaged pele. then they went on to steamroll the powerhouses of soccer, defeating sweden 5-2 in the finals. you learn how uruguay arrived at the 1924 games, an unheralded team on a shoestring budget. and how the press wrote "here we have real soccer. Compared with this, what we knew before, what we played, was no more than a schoolboy's hobby."

the pages turn of themselves. get a copy!

here are some of my choices for the best stories:
* most tragic:  the kiev dynamo death match
  	 	  (this version is partly a myth
		   - but still quite a tale.]
* most beautiful : the 1924 world cup story...
		  also the 1958 world cup,
* most sad (yet beautiful) the story of garrincha



The pages that follow
are dedicated to the children
who once upon a time, years ago,
crossed my path on Calella de la Costa.
They had been playing soccer and were singing:

	We lost, we won,
	either way we had fun.

author's confession

Like all Uruguayan children, I wanted to be a soccer player. I played quite
well, in fact I was terrific, but only at night when I was asleep. During the
day I was the worst wooden leg ever to set foot on the little soccer fields
of my country. As a fan I also left a lot to be desired. Juan Alberto
Schiaffino and Julio Cesar Abbadie played for Penarol, the enemy team. I was
a loyal Nacional fan and I did everything I could to hate them. But with his
masterful passes "El Pepe" Shiaffino orchestrated the team's plays as if he
were watching from the highest tower of the stadium, and "El Pardo" Abbadie,
running in his seven-league boots, would slide the ball all the way down the
white touchline, swaying back and forth without ever grazing the ball or his
opponents. I couldn't help admiring them, and I even felt like cheering.

Years have gone by and I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a
beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the
stadiums I plead: "A pretty move, for the love of God."

And when good soccer happens, I give thanks for the miracle and I don't give
a damn which team or country performs it.

the player

Panting, he runs up the wing. On one side await the heavens of glory; on the
other, ruin's abyss.

He's the envy of the neighbourhood: the professional athlete who escaped the
factory or the office and gets paid to have fun. He won the lottery. And even
if he does have to sweat buckets, with no right to fatigue or failure, he
gets into the paper and on TV, his name is on the radio, women swoon over him
and children yearn to be like him. He started out playing for pleasure in the
dirt streets of the slums, and now he plays out of duty in stadiums where he
has no choice but to win.

the goal is soccer's orgasm. and like orgasms, goals have become an ever less frequent in modern life...

Businessmen buy him, sell him, lend him; and he lets it all happen in return for the promise of more fame and more money. The more successful he is and the more money he makes, the more of a prisoner he becomes: forced into military discipline, he suffers the punishing daily round of training and the bombardments of painkillers and cortisone to forget his aches and fool his body; and on the eve of big games, they lock him up in a concentration camp where he does forced labour, eats tasteless food, gets drunk on water and sleeps alone. In other human trades, decline comes with old age, but a player can be old at thirty. Muscles tire early: ‘That guy couldn’t score if the field were on a slope; Not even if they tied the goalie's hands."

Or before thirty if the ball knocks him out badly, or bad
luck tears a muscle, or a kick breaks a bone so it can’t be fixed.

And one rotten day the player discovers he has bet his life on a single card
and his money is gone and so is his fame. Fame, that fleeting lady, didn't
even leave him a Dear John letter.' p.3

the goalkeeper

"They also call him doorman, keeper, goalie, bouncer or net minder, but he
could just as well be called martyr, pay-all penitent or punching bag. They
say where he walks, the grass never grows.

He's alone, condemned to watch the game from afar. Never leaving the goal,
his only company the three posts, he awaits his own execution by firing
squad. He used to dress in black, like the referee. Now the referee doesn't
have to dress like a crow and the goalkeeper can populate his solitude with
colourful fantasies.

He doesn't score goals, he's there to keep them from being scored. The goal
is soccer's fiesta: the striker sparks delight and the goalkeeper, a wet
blanket, snuffs it out.

He wears the number one on his back. The first to be pai? No, the first to
pay. It's always the keeper's fault. And if it isn't, he still gets
blamed. When any player commits a foul, he's the one who gets punished: they
leave him there in the immensity of the empty net, abandoned to face his
executioner alone. And when the team has a bad afternoon, he's the one who
pays the bill, expiating the sins of others under a rain of flying balls.

The rest of the players can blow it once in a while, or often, the redeem
themselves with a spectacular dribble, a masterful pass, a well-placed
volley. Not him. The crowd never forgives the keeper. Was he drawn out by a
fake?  Left looking ridiculous?  Did the ball skid? Did his fingers of steel
turn to silk? With a single slip-up the goalie can ruin a game or lose a
championship, and the fans suddenly forget all his feats and condemn him to
eternal disgrace. Damnation will follow him to the end of his days." 4

the idol [el ídolo]

And one fine day the goddess of the wind kisses the foot of man, that
mistreated, scorned foot, and from that kiss the soccer idol is born.  He is
born in a straw crib in a tin-roofed shack and he enters the world clinging
to a ball.

	Y un buen día la diosa del viento besa el pie del hombre, el
	maltratado, el despreciado pie, y de ese beso nace el ídolo del
	fútbol. Nace en cuna de paja y choza de lata y viene al mundo
	abrazado a una pelota.

From the moment he learns to walk, he knows how to play. In his early years he
brings joy to the sandlots, plays like crazy in the back alleys of the slum
until night falls and you can’t see the ball, and in his early manhood he
takes flight and the stadiums fly with him.
His acrobatic art draws multitudes, Sunday after Sunday, from victory
to victory, ovation to ovation.

	Desde que aprende a caminar, sabe jugar. En sus años tempranos alegra
	los potreros, juega que te juega en los andurriales de los suburbios
	hasta que cae la noche y ya no se ve la pelota, y en sus años mozos
	vuela y hace volar en los estadios.
	Sus artes malabares convocan multitudes, domingo tras domingo, de
	victoria en victoria, de ovación en ovación.

The ball seeks him out, knows him, needs him. She rests and rocks on the top
of his foot. He caresses and makes her speak, and in that tete-a-tete millions
of mutes converse. The nobodies, those condemned to always be nobodies, feel
they are somebodies for a moment by virtue of those one-two passes, those
dribbles that draw Z's on the grass, those incredible backheel goals or
overhead volleys. When he plays, the team has twelve players: "Twelve ? It
has fifteen! Twenty!

	La pelota lo busca, lo reconoce, lo necesita. En el pecho de su pie,
	ella descansa y se hamaca. Él le saca lustre y la hace hablar, y en
	esa charla de dos conversan millones de mudos. Los nadies, los
	condenados a ser por siempre nadies, pueden sentirse álguienes por un
	rato, por obra y gracia de esos pases devueltos al toque, esas
	gambetas que dibujan zetas en el césped, esos golazos de taquito o de
	chilena: cuando juega él, el cuadro tiene doce jugadores.

The ball laughs, radiant, in the air. He brings her down, puts her to sleep,
showers her with compliments, dances with her, and seeing such things never
before seen his admirers pity their unborn grandchildren who will never see

	La pelota ríe, radiante, en el aire. Él la baja, la duerme, la
	piropea, la baila, y viendo esas cosas jamás vistas sus adoradores
	sienten piedad por sus nietos aún no nacidos, que no las verán.

But an idol is an idol for only a moment, a human eternity, all of nothing;
and when the time comes for the golden foot to become a lame duck, the star
will have completed his journey from star to blackout. His body has more
patches than a clown's suit, and by now the acrobat is a cripple, the artist
a beast of burden: "Not with your clodhoppers!"

The fountain of public adulation becomes the lightning rod of public rancor:
‘You mummy!’ Sometimes the idol doesn’t fall all at once. And sometimes when
he breaks people devour the pieces." p.5-6

	La fuente de la felicidad pública se convierte en el pararrayos
	del público rencor:
	      A veces el ídolo no cae entero. Y a veces, cuando se rompe, la
	gente le devora los pedazos.

[?? tranlation - "You mummy?" - is this quite the best gloss for "Momia?"

the fan

Once a week, the fan flees his house and goes to the stadium.

Banners wave and the air resounds with rattles, firecrackers and drums; it
rains streamers and confetti. The city disappears, its routine forgotten, all
that exists is the temple. In this sacred place, the only religion without
atheists puts its divinities on display. Although the fan can contemplate the
miracle more comfortably on TV, he prefers to make the pilgrimage to this
spot where he can see his angels in the flesh doing battle with the demons of
the day.

Here the fan shakes his scarf, gulps his saliva, swallows his bile, eats his
cap, whispers prayers and curses and suddenly breaks out in an ovation,
leaping like a flea to hug the stranger at his side, cheering the goal. While
the pagan mass lasts, the fan is many. Along with thousands of other devotees
he shares the certainty that we are the best, that all referees are crooked,
that all the adversaries cheat.

Rarely does the fan say, ‘My club plays today’. Rather he says, ‘We play
today’. He knows it's ‘player number twelve’ who stirs up the winds of
fervour that propel the ball when she falls asleep, just as the other eleven
players know that playing without their fans is like dancing without music.

When the game is over, the fan, who has not moved from the stands, celebrates
his victory: ‘What a goal we scored’, `What a beating we gave them’. Or he
cries over his defeat: `They swindled us again’, ‘Thief of a referee’. And
then the sun goes down and so does the fan. Shadows fall over the emptying
stadium. On the concrete terracing a few fleeting bonfires burn, while the
lights and voices fade. The stadium is left alone and the fan, too, returns
to his solitude: to the I who had been we. The fan goes off, the crowd breaks
up and melts away, and Sunday becomes as melancholy as Ash Wednesday after
the death of carnival.

Why do people, like this fan, become so devoted to sports? Why is it that
Spectators pay homage and allegiance to their favourite teams? One reason is
that people desire to be affiliated with something bigger than they
are. People are also attracted to the excellence at which players execute
skills and want to know how to do it. People also watch sports because it is
an escape from reality. Sports draw them out of their everyday existence and
provide relief from daily life.  p.7

the fanatic

	The fanatic is a fan in a madhouse.  His mania for denying all
	evidence finally upended whatever once passed for his mind, and the
	remains of the shipwreck spin about aimlessly in waters whipped by a
	fury that gives no quarter.

	The fanatic shows up at the stadium wrapped in the team flag, his
	face painted the colors of their beloved shirts prick­ling with
	strident and aggressive paraphernalia, and on the way he makes a lot
	of noise and a lot of fuss. He never comes alone. In the midst of the
	rowdy crowd, dangerous centipede, this cowed man will cow others,
	this frightened man becomes frightening,cheap soccer
	cleats. Omnipotence on Sunday exorcises the obedient life he leads
	the rest of the week: the bed with no desire, the job with no calling
	or no job at all. Liberated for a day, the fanatic has much to

	In an epileptic fit he watches the game but doesn't see it His arena
	is the stands. They are his battleground. The mere presence of a fan
	of the other side constitutes an inexcusable provocation. Good isn't
	violent by nature, but Evil leaves it no choice. The enemy, always in
	the wrong, deserves a good thrashing. The fanatic cannot let his mind
	wander because the enemy is everywhere, even in that quiet spectator
	who at any moment might offer the opinion that the rival team is
	playing fair, then he'll get what he deserves.  p.8

the goal

the goal is soccer's orgasm. And like orgasms, goals have become an ever less
frequent occurrence in modern life.

Half a century ago, it was a rare thing for a game to end scoreless: O-O, two
open mouths, two yawns. Now, the eleven players spend the entire game hanging
from the crossbars, trying to stop goals, and have no time to score them.

The excitement unleashed whenever the white bullet makes the net ripple might
appear mysterious or crazy, but remember the miracle doesn’t happen very
often. The goal, even if it be a little one, is always a
gooooooooooooooooooooooooooal in the throat of the commentators, a "do" sung
from the chest that would leave Caruso forever mute, and the crowd goes nuts
and the stadium forgets that it's made of concrete and breaks free of the
earth and flies through the air. 9

the referee

In Spanish he's the arbitro and he is arbitrary by definition. An abominable
tyrant who runs his dictatorship without opposition, a pompous executioner,
who exercises his absolute power with an operatic flourish. Whistle between
his lips, he blows the winds of inexorable fate either to allow a goal or to
disallow one. Card in hand, he raises the colors of doom: yellow to punish
the sinner and oblige him to repent, and red to force him into exile.  The
linesmen, who assist but do not rule, look on from the side. Only the referee
steps onto the playing field, and he's absolutely right to cross himself when
he first appears before the roaring crowd. His job is to make himself
hated. The only universal sentiment in soccer: everybody hates him. He always
gets catcalls, never applause.

the manager's mission: to prevent improvisation, restrict freedom and maximize the productivity of the players. this is an athletic technocracy.

No one runs more. The only one obliged to run the entire game without pause, this interloper who pants in the ears of every player breaks his back galloping like a horse. And in return for his pains, the crowd howls for his head. From beginning to end he sweats oceans, forced to chase the white ball that skips along back and forth between the feet of everyone else. Of course he’d love to play, but never has he been offered that privilege. When the ball hits him by accident, the entire stadium curses his mother. But even so, just to be there in that sacred green space where the ball floats and glides, he's willing to suffer insults, catcalls, stones and damnation.

Sometimes, though rarely, his judgment coincides with the inclinations of the
fans, but not even then does he emerge unscathed. The losers owe their loss
to him and the winners triumph in spite of him. Scapegoat for every error,
cause of every misfortune, the fans would have to invent him if he didn’t
already exist. The more they hate him, the more they need him.

For over a century the referee dressed in mourning. For whom? For
himself. Now he wears bright colors to mask his feelings. 10-11

the language of soccer doctors

	It would be easy for us to evade our responsibility and attribute the
	home team's setback to the restrained performance of its players, but
	the excessive sluggishness they undeniably demonstrated in today's
	game each time they received the ball in no way justifies, understand
	me well ladies and gentlemen, in no way justifies such a generalized
	and therefore unjust critique. No, no, and no.

	Conformity is not our style, as those of you who have followed us
	during the long years of our career well know, not only in our
	beloved country but on the stages of international and even worldwide
	sport, wherever we have been called upon to fulfill our humble
	duty. So, as is our custom, we are going to pronounce all the
	syllables of every word: the organic potential of the game-plan
	pursued by this struggling team has not been crowned with success
	simply and plainly because the team continues to be incapable of
	adequately channelling its expectations for greater offensive
	projection in the direction of the enemy goal. We said as much only
	this past Sunday and we affirm it today, with our heads held high and
	without any hairs on our tongue, because we have always called a
	spade a spade and we will continue speaking the truth, though it
	hurts, fall who may, and no matter the cost. 15

the manager (El director técnico)

In the old days there was the trainer and nobody paid him much heed. He dies
without a word when the game stopped being a game and professional soccer
required a technocracy to keep people in line. Then the manager was born. His
mission: to prevent improvisation, restrict freedom and maximize the
productivity of the players, who were now obliged to become disciplined

The trainer used to say: "Let's play."

The manager says: "Let's go to work."

	   El entrenador decía:
	   Vamos a jugar.
	   El técnico dice:
	   Vamos a trabajar.

Today they talk in numbers. The history of soccer in the twentieth century, a
journey from daring to fear, is a trip from the 2-3-5 to the 5-4-1 by way of
the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-2 [sic]. Any ignoramus could translate that much with a
little help, but the rest is impossible. The manager dreams up formulas as
mysterious as the Immaculate Conception, and he uses them to develop tactical
schemes more indecipherable than the Holy Trinity.

From the old blackboard to the electronic screen: now great plays are planned
by computer and taught by video. These dream-manoeuvers are rarely seen in
the broadcast version of the games. Television prefers to focus on the
furrows in the manager's brow. We see him gnawing his fists or shouting
instructions that would certainly turn the game around if anyone could
understand them. 12

the theater

The players in this show act with their legs for an audience of thousands or
millions who watch from the stands or their living rooms with their souls on
edge. Who writes the play – the manager? This play mocks its author,
unfolding as it pleases and according to the actors’ abilities. It definitely
depends on fate, which like the wind blows every which way. That's why the
outcome is always a surprise to spectators and protagonists alike, except in
the cases of bribery or other inescapable tricks of destiny. 13

choreographed war

	In soccer, ritual sublimation of war, eleven men in shorts are the
	sword of the neighborhood, the city or the nation. These
	warriors…exorcize the demons of the crowd and reaffirm its faith: in
	each confrontation between two sides, old hatreds and old loves
	passed from father to son enter into combat.

	The stadium has towers and banners like a castle, as well as a deep
	and wide moat around the field. In the middle, a white line
	separates the territories in dispute.  p.17

a flag that rolls

During the summer of 1916, in the midst of the Great War, an English captain
named Neville launched a military attack by kicking a ball. Leaping out from
behind a parapet which was serving as his cover, he chased the ball toward
the German trenches. His regiment, hesitant at first, followed the
leader. The captain was blasted by the gunfire, but England conquered that
no-man's land and celebrated the victory as the first of British soccer on
front lines. Signs of galvanising power of the game was indisputable. 34

death match at kiev

For the Nazis, too, soccer was a matter of state. A monument in the Ukraine
commemorates the players of the 1942 Kiev Dynamo team. During the German
occupation they committed the insane act of defeating Hitler's squad in the
local stadium. Having been warned, "If you win, you die," they started out
resigned to losing, trembling with fear and hunger, but in the end they could
not resist the temptation of dignity. When the game was over all eleven were
shot with their shirts on at the edge of a cliff.  35

[in reality - from wiki Death Match:

two games were played:
	August 6	Flakelf (Germany)	5–1
return match:
	August 9	Flakelf (Germany)	5–3

at this second match, the stadium was covered with soldiers and Gestapo (SS).
The referee was himself an SS officer, and he visited the team in the locker
room.  At half-time, the referree may have asked them to throw the match.

towards the end, with their team leading by 5-3, Klymenko, a defender, got
the ball, beat the entire German rearguard and walked around the German
goalkeeper. Then, instead of letting it cross the goal line, he turned around
and kicked the ball back towards the centre circle. The SS referee blew the
final whistle before the ninety minutes were up.

Over the next few days, most of the team were arrested.  one who was a
communist, was shot.  others were sent to various concentration camps, where
at least four were shot.  At least three, maybe five survived.

James Riordan, Match of Death


Everyone knew the story. Nothing exemplified Nazi bestiality better. Germans
were the Master Race... and the Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians and Belorusians)
were, like the Jews, Untermenschen – subhuman, to be exterminated.

More Ukrainians died in the war than any other nation: some 12–15 million
(Russians: 11 mn; total Soviet losses - 44 mn), Germans (6.5 million) and
Jews (6 million), and more than 35 times the British losses (360,000). As
Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo, put it, it was necessary to ‘kill
all Ukrainian men over 15’.

the myth

During the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, at periods, the people of Kiev had their
food ration cut to 200 grams of bread per week (matchbox size) and were reduced
to eating dogs, rats, crows, birch bark, even cow dung. Over 100,000 starved to
death in Kiev alone. Amid the cruelty and devastation, an event took place that
has gone down in history as ‘The Match of Death’ (match smerti or Todesspiel von

On a sunny afternoon on 9 August 1942, a crack Luftwaffe football team
played a match against Dinamo Kiev (actually the team FC Smart, created with
leftover players from Dinamo).

The Germans were fit, well-fed and included ‘professionals, several national
team members, all sent by Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering from Berlin’.8 The
Ukrainians, on the other hand, were ‘starving, skinny and exhausted’, a
motley band of veterans and juniors caught up in occupied Kiev. The Nazis
staged the match as yet more proof of their invincibility at a time when
Hitler's victorious army was meeting its first setbacks at the gates of
Moscow and Stalingrad.

the truth

Far from being the crack Luftwaffe team of the myth, Flakelf by its name
implies that the team was made up of ‘anti-aircraft’ personnel, presumably
manning the ack-ack guns in and around Kiev against Soviet warplanes. The
referee was a Ukrainian nationalist – no Ukrainians were allowed to join the
Gestapo – who gave no ultimatum. According to eyewitness accounts, it was a
tough (‘both teams played roughly’), tense but fair game (the Germans broke no
legs and knocked no one out), ending in a 5–3 victory for the Kiev team – much
to the delight of the home fans. After the game, according to an eyewitness, Mikol
Matyukhov, then 16 years old, ‘the teams shook hands, posed for a photograph
together, and went off home’.

The Kiev players were rewarded by the delighted bakery chief Otto Schmidt,
who had collected a substantial bet on the match from his fellow Germans, and
they continued their jobs at the bakery. It was some time later that misfortune
befell some of the players, quite unrelated to football matters. Saboteurs added
ground glass to bread intended for German officers. First, 100 bakery workers
were lined up in the yard and shot; then, on the second occasion, 200, including
five footballers. Kolya Korotkikh, Vanya Kuzmenko and Alex Klimenko were
taken to Babi Yar and shot. Kolya Trusevich and Fyodor Tyutchev escaped, but
the former was later killed as he tried to swim across a lake to safety.

Immediately after the war, the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, arrested the
surviving players and accused them of ‘collaboration’. Goncharenko's son told
me his father spent four months in an NKVD cell in Kiev, awaiting his fate.
This was at a time when hundreds of footballers (and thousands of other
innocent sports victims) were caught up in a new purge launched by Stalin and
police chief Lavrenty Beria.

The myth was propagated during the soviet regime.


the second discovery of america

For Pedro Arispe, homeland meant nothing. It was the place where he was
born, which meant nothing to him because he had no choice in the
matter. It was where he broke his back working as a peon in a
packinghouse, and for him one boss was the same as any other no matter
the country. But when Uruguay won the 1924 Olympics in France, Arispe was
one of the winning players. While he watched the flag with the sun and
four pale blue stripes rising slowly up the pole of honor, at the center
of all the flags and higher than any other, Arispe felt his heart burst.

Four years later, Uruguay won gold again at the Olympics in the
Netherlands. A prominent Uruguayan, Atilio Narancio, who in 1924 had
mortgaged his house to pay for the players’ passage, commented: "We are
no longer just a tiny spot on the map of the world." The sky-blue shirt
was proof of the existence of the nation: Uruguay was not a
mistake. Soccer had pulled this tiny country out of the shadows of
universal anonymity.

The authors of the miracles of ’24 and ’28 were workers and wanderers who
got nothing from soccer but the pleasure of playing. Pedro Arispe was a
meatpacker. José Nasazzi cut marble. "Perucho" Petrone was a
grocer. Pedro Cea sold ice. José Leandro Andrade was a carnival musician
and bootblack. They were all twenty years old or a little older, though
in the pictures they look like old men.  They cured their wounds with
salt water, vinegar plasters, and a few glasses of wine.

In 1924 they arrived in Europe in third-class steerage and then traveled
on borrowed money in second-class carriages, sleeping on wooden benches
and playing match after match in exchange for room and board. Before the
Paris Olympics, they played nine matches in Spain and won all nine of

It was the first time that a Latin American team had played in
Europe. Their first Olympic match was against Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavs
sent spies to the practice session. The Uruguayans caught on and
practiced by kicking the ground and sending the ball up into the clouds,
tripping at every step and crashing into each other. The spies reported:
"It makes you feel sorry, these poor boys came from so far away."

Barely two thousand fans showed up. The Uruguayan flag was flown upside
down, the sun on its head, and instead of the national anthem they played
a Brazilian march. That afternoon, Uruguay defeated Yugoslavia 7–0.

And then something like the second discovery of America occurred.  Match
after match, crowds lined up to see those men, slippery like squirrels,
who played chess with the ball.  The English squad had perfected the long
pass and the high ball, but these disinherited children, begotten in
far-off America, did not walk in their fathers’ footsteps. They chose to
invent a game of close passes directly to the foot, with lightning
changes in rhythm and high-speed dribbling. Henri de Montherlant, an
aristocratic writer, published his enthusiasm: "A revelation! Here we
have real soccer. Compared with this, what we knew before, what we
played, was no more than a schoolboy's hobby."

Uruguay's success at the ’24 and ’28 Olympics and its subsequent World Cup
victories in 1930 and 1950, owed a large debt to the government's policy of
building sports fields around the country to promote physical education.
Now, years later, all that remains of the state's social calling, and of that
great soccer, is nostalgia. Several players, like the very subtle Enzo
Francescoli, have managed to inherit and renovate the old arts, but in
general Uruguayan soccer is a far cry from what it used to be. Ever fewer
children play it and ever fewer men play it gracefully. Nevertheless, there
is no Uruguayan who does not consider himself a Ph.D. in tactics and
strategy, and a scholar of soccer history. Uruguayans’ passion for soccer
comes from those days long ago, and its deep roots are still visible. Every
time the national team plays, no matter against whom, the country holds its
breath. Politicians, singers, and carnival barkers shut their mouths, lovers
suspend their caresses, and flies refuse to budge. 44-47

* The First World Cup Final

Travelling third-class to save money, the Uruguayans won all nine matches in
Spain against the likes of Atletico de Madrid, Valencia, Real Sociedad and
Athletic de Bilbao.

Having beaten the hosts and favourites France 5-1 in the quarter-final and
Holland in the semi, Uruguay took gold in front of 60,000 against
Switzerland. The French took the South Americans to their hearts, especially
Jose Leandro Andrade, the black right half, a subtle defender of the ball who
linked up play with the forwards. In one game he carried the ball 20 yards on
his head and the French dubbed him La Marveille Noire - the Black Marvel.

When the Olympic champions returned triumphantly to Montevideo, they were
instantly challenged by Argentina to a two-leg 'friendly'. The Argentines,
who'd chosen not to send a team to the games, ground out a hard-earned 1-1
draw in Montevideo and approached the second leg in Buenos Aires with
confidence. The return was blighted by crowd trouble, however, with a pitch
invasion causing the abandonment of the game. When they tried again four days
later, Uruguay's Andrade, at right-half, had to stay 15 yards in from the
wing to avoid bottles thrown from the crowd. Argentina prevailed 2-1, 3-2 on
aggregate, with one of their goals coming direct from a corner: such goals
are still called 'Olympic goals' in the Spanish-speaking world. With the win,
the Argentinians proclaimed themselves 'moral world champions' (much like
Scotland after their 1967 win over England) and their press had a field day,
one paper running the banner headline 'Olympics ha ha ha'.


* from: (spanish wikipedia)

Atilio Narancio was a pediatrician and football lover in Uruguay.  In 1923,
the Uruguay Football Association [AUF] organized the first Copa America, and
Narancio, as chairman, promised the team that if they won, he would ensure
they went to the  Olympics in Paris.

[At the time,FIFA used to organize the soccer matches in the olympics, and
these were the predecessor of the World Cup which started 1930 - with Uruguay

* Uruguay's victory in the 1924 Paris Games changes the face of football
Jon Henderson, the Telegraph, 2012

While European countries bickered about what constituted an amateur player –
an argument that resulted in Britain and Denmark – a highly organised Uruguay
team arrived in the French capital to become the first South American
national side to compete in a major international championship.

From their preparation to the way they played, the Uruguayans challenged
Europe's long-established approach to the game. Bernard Joy, a former England
international player and now a commentator on the game, wrote: "A doctor and
a physical expert were as important elements of the staff as the coach

Prepared to a perfect physical pitch, the players were then closeted in a
villa in the village of Argenteuil lest they succumb to the attractions of

But the real revelation for European observers was that, as far as the South
Americans were concerned, opening up defences through skilful passing was
paramount, counting for far more than physical intimidation. One of their
players in particular, Jose Leandro Andrade, captivated crowds with his
technique, earning himself the nickname La Marveille Noire. A midfield player
he has been awarded the unofficial accolade of being the first international
football star.

The proof of the effectiveness of the Uruguayan way was in the results: five
matches, five victories, 20 goals for, two against. In the final, in front of
a 60,000 crowd – with 10,000 locked out of the Colombes stadium – they
comfortably rolled over Switzerland 3-0.


Europe had never seen a black man play soccer.

In the 1924 Olympics, the Uruguayan José Leandro Andrade dazzled everyone
with his exquisite moves. A midfielder, this rubber-bodied giant would sweep
the ball downfield without ever touching an adversary, and when he launched
the attack he would brandish his body and send them all scattering. In one
match he crossed half the field with the ball sitting on his head. The crowds
cheered him, the French press called him "The Black Marvel."

When the tournament was over, Andrade spent some time hanging around Paris as
errant Bohemian and king of the cabarets. Patent leather shoes replaced his
whiskery hemp sandals from Montevideo and a top hat took the place of his
worn cap. Newspaper columns of the time praised the figure of that monarch of
the Pigalle night: gay jaunty step, oversized grin, half-closed eyes always
staring into the distance. And dressed to kill: silk handkerchief, striped
jacket, bright yellow gloves, and a cane with a silver handle.

Andrade died in Montevideo many years later. His friends had planned several
benefits for him, but none of them ever came off. He died of tuberculosis, in
utter poverty.

He was black, South American, and poor, the first international idol of
soccer. 47


from wiki José Leandro Andrade
By 1956, when he was located by German journalist Fritz Hack, he had
descended into alcoholism and was living in a small flat in a poor area of

After contracting tuberculosis Andrade died in poverty in 1957 at the Piñeyro
del Campo nursing home in Montevideo.[5][7][8]


They called the successive figure eights Uruguayan players drew on the field
moñas, ringlets. French journalists wanted the secret of that witchcraft that
cast the rival players in stone. Through an interpreter, José Leandro Andrade
revealed the formula: the players trained by chasing chickens that fled
making S's on the ground. Journalists believed it and published the story.

Decades later, good ringlets were still cheered as loudly as goals in South
American soccer. My childhood memory is filled with them. I close my eyes and
I see, for example, Walter Gómez, that dizzying bushwhacker who would dive
into the swamp of enemy legs with ringlet after ringlet and leave a wake of
fallen bodies. The stands would confess:

We’d all rather fast than miss a Walter Gómez pass.

He liked to knead the ball, retain it and caress it, and if it got away from
him, he would feel insulted. No coach would dare tell him, as they say now:
"If you want to knead, go work in a bakery."

The ringlet was not just a bit of tolerated mischief, it was a joy the crowd
demanded. Today such works of art are outlawed, or at least viewed with grave
suspicion, and are considered selfish exhibitionism, a betrayal of team
spirit, and utterly useless against the iron defensive systems of modern
soccer. 48

goal by meazza

It was at the World Cup in '38. In the semi-final, Italy and Brazil were
risking their necks for all or nothing.

Italian striker Piola suddenly collapsed as if he'd been shot, and with the
last flutter of life in his finger he pointed at Brazilian defender Domingos
da Guia. The referee believed him and blew the whistle: penalty. While the
Brazilians screamed to high heaven and Piola got up and dusted himself off,
Giusepe Meazza placed the ball on the firing point.

Meazza was the dandy of the picture. A short, handsome, Latin lover and an
elegant artilleryman of penalties, he lifted his chin to the goalkeeper like
a matador before the final charge. His feet, as soft and knowing as hands,
never missed. But Walter, the Brazilian goalie, was good at blocking penalty
kicks and felt confident.

Meazza began his run up, and just when he was about to execute the kick, he
dropped his shorts. The crowd was stupefied and the referee nearly swallowed
his whistle. But Meazza, never pausing, grabbed his pants with one hand and
sent the goalkeeper, disarmed by laughter, down to defeat.

That was the goal that put Italy in the final. 71

This video shows the goal, and it doesn't seem as if 
Meazza's white shorts are embarrassing him.
The following report fro CBC says that they fell off after 
he took the shot. 


	[Meazza] was set to take a penalty shot when the elastic holding up
	his shorts snapped. Undaunted, Meazza held up his shorts with his
	left hand while scoring from the spot to give Italy a 2-0
	lead. Meazza's shorts fell down around his waist after he scored.

the perfect kiss would like to be unique

Half a century or more ago, Lago or Garcia scored a perfect scored a perfect
goal, one that left his adversaries paralyzed with rage or admiration. Then
he plucked the ball from the back of the net and with it under his arm he
retraced his path, stepby step, dragging his feet.  That's right, raising
lots of dust, to erase his footprints, so that no one could copy his goal. 75


They called him "El Charro" because he looked like a Mexican movie star, but
he was from the countryside upriver from Buenos Aires.

Jose Manuel Moreno, the most popular player in River's "Machine", loved to
throw fakes: his pirate legs would strike out one way but go another, his
bandit head would promise a shot at one goalpost and drive it at the other.

Whenever an opponent flattened him with a kick, Moreno would get up by
himself and without complaint, and no matter how badly he was hurt, he would
keep on playing. He was proud, a swagger and a scrapper who could punch out
the entire enemy stands and his own as well, though his fans adored him, they
had a nasty habit of insulting him every time River lost.

Lover of good music and good friends, a man of the Buenos Aires night, Moreno
used to meet the dawn tangled in someone's tresses or propped up on his
elbows on the counter of some café.

"The tango," he'd say, "is the best way to train: you maintain a rhythm, then
change it when you stride forward, you learn the profiles, you work on your
waist and your legs."

In 1961, after retiring, he became coach of Medellin in Colombia
Medellin was losing a match against Boca Juniors from Argentina, and the
players couldn't make any headway towards the goal.  So Moreno, who was then
forty-five, got out of his street clothes, took the field and scored two
goals.  Medellin won.  78


While war tormented the world, Rio de Janeiro's dailies announced a
London-style bombing on the pitch of the club Bangu. In the middle of 1943,
a match was to be played against Sao Cristovao, and Bangu's fans planned to
send four thousand fireworks aloft, the largest bombardment in the history of

When the Bangu players took the field and the gunpowder thunder and lightning
began, Sao Cristovao's coach locked his players in the dressing room and
stuck cotton-wool in their ears. As long as the fireworks lasted, and they
lasted a long time, the dressing room floor shook, the walls shook and the
players shook too, all of them huddled with their heads in their hands, teeth
clenched, eyes screwed shut, convinced that the world war had come home. They
were still shaking when they stepped onto the field. Those who weren’t
epileptic must have had malaria. The sky was black with smoke. Bangu creamed

A short while later, there was to be a game between the Rio de Janeiro and
Sao Paulo teams. Once again, war clouds threatened and the dailies predicted
another Pearl Harbour, a siege of Leningrad and other cataclysms. The
Paulistas knew that the loudest bang ever heard awaited them in Rio. Then the
Sao Paulo coach had a brainwave: instead of hiding in the dressing room, his
players would take the fiald at the same time as the Cariocas. That way
instead of scaring them, the bombardment would be a greeting.

And that's what happened, only Sao Paulo lost anyway, 6-1.   p.81

the man who turned iron into wind

[Eduardo Chillida], was goalkeeper for Real Sociedad - experts were
predicting the boy would succeed Zamora.

But a rival striker smashed his meniscus and everything else.

He gave up soccer, and became one of the greatest sculptors of the twentieth
century.] 82

contact therapy

Enrique Pichon-Revière spent his entire life piercing the mysteries of human
sadness and helping to crack our cages of silence.

In soccer he found an effective ally. Back in the forties, Pichon-Revière
organized a team among his patients at the insane asylum. These locos were
unbeatable on the fields of the Argentine littoral, and playing was their
best therapy.

"Team strategy is my priority," said the psychiatrist, who was also the
team's coach and top scorer.

Half a century later, we urban beings are all more or less crazy, even though
due to space limitations nearly all of us live outside the asylum. Evicted by
cars, trapped by violence, condemned to isolation, we live packed in ever
closer to one another and feel ever more alone, with ever fewer meeting
places and ever less time to meet.

In soccer, as in everything else, consumers are far more numerous than
producers. Asphalt covers the empty lots where people used to pick up a game,
and work devours our leisure time. Most people don’t play, they just watch
others play on television or from stands that lie even farther from the
field. Like carnival, soccer has become a mass spectator sport. But just like
the carnival spectators who start dancing in the streets, in soccer there are
always a few admiring fans who kick the ball every so often out of sheer
joy. And not only children. For better or for worse, though the fields are as
far away as they could be, friends from the neighborhood or workmates from
the factory, the office or the faculty still get together to play for fun
until they collapse exhausted, and then winners and losers go off together to
drink and smoke and share a good meal, pleasures denied the professional

Sometimes women take part, too, and score their own goals, though in general
the macho tradition keeps them exiled from these fiestas of communication. 82-83

goal by rahn

It was at the World Cup in 1954. Hungary, the favorite, was playing Germany
in the final. WIth six minutes left in a game tied 2-2, the robust German
forward Helmut Rahn trapped a rebound from the Hungarian defense in the
semi-circle. Rahn evaded Lantos and fired a blast with his left, just inside
the right post of the goal defended by Grosics.

Heribert Zimmermann, Germany's most popular commentator, anoounced that goal
with a passion worthy of a South American: "Toooooooooorrrrrrrrr!!!"

It was the first World Cup that Germany had been allowed to play in since the
war, and Germans felt they had the right to exist again. Zimmerman's cry
became a symbol of national resurrection. Years later, that historic goal
could be heard on the soundtrack of Fassbinder's film, "The Marriage of Maria
Braun," which recounts the misadventures of a woman who can't find her way
out of the ruins. 94

the 1958 world cup

At the beginning of the '58 World Cup the Brazilians didn't have much spark,
but after the players rebelled and convinced the coach to field the team they
wanted, they were unstoppable. At that point five substitutes became
starters, among them an unknown teenager named Pele, and Garrincha, who was
already quite famous in Brazil and had sparkled in the previous
Cup. Garrincha had been left out this time because psychological testing
showed him to have a weak mind. These black second stringers to white stars
blazed with their own light in the new star team, along with another
astonishing black, Didi, who organized their magic from the back.

Games and flames: the London paper World Sports said you had to rub your eyes
to believe that it was of this world. In the semi-final against the French
team of Kopa and Fontaine, the Brazilians won 5-2, and they won again 5-2 in
the final against the home team. The Swedish captain Liedholm, one of the
cleanest and most elegant players in the history of soccer, converted the
first goal of the match, but then Vava, Pele and Zagalo put the Swedes in
their place under the astonished gaze of King Gustavus Adolphus. Brazil was
over, the victorious players gave the ball to their most devoted fan, the
victorious players gave the ball to their most devoted fan, the black masseur
Americo. 101

highlights : sweden-brazil 1958 world cup final


from Jonathan Stevenson, BBC: Remembering Garrincha 2008 Jan

[Before the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, Brazil were something of a
laughing stock in terms of world football.

They were considered second-rate even on their own continent, with Uruguay
the dominant force having won the first World Cup in 1930 and then,
catastrophically for Brazil, beating the hosts in the Maracana in 1950 to
claim their second crown.

The 1950 defeat on their own patch, dubbed 'The Fateful Final', had caused
such long-lasting scars on the Brazilian game that they went to Sweden with a
psychologist in tow, a move almost unheard of at the time.

They need not have worried. Garrincha was held back until the third game,
against the powerful Russians, and in partnership with Didi, Vava and Pele,
he destroyed them.

They edged past Wales 1-0, thrashed 13-goal Just Fontaine's France 5-2 and
then battered Sweden 5-2 in the final in Stockholm to become the first team
to win the World Cup outside their own continent.

[wiki: Brazil national football team:

Brazil's head coach, Vicente Feola, imposed strict rules on the squad for
the 1958 FIFA World Cup, held in Sweden. The players were given a list of
forty things that they were not allowed to do, including wearing hats or
umbrellas, smoking while wearing official uniforms and talking to the
press outside of allocated times.

Brazil were drawn in the toughest group, with England, the USSR and
Austria. They beat Austria 3–0 in their first match, then drew 0–0 with

Before the third match, the leaders of the team, Bellini, Nílton Santos,
and Didi, spoke to coach Vicente Feola and persuaded him to make three
substitutions which were crucial for Brazil to defeat the Soviets and win
the Cup: Zito, Garrincha and greatest footballer of all time, Pelé would
start playing against the USSR.

From the kick off, they passed the ball to Garrincha who beat three players
before hitting the post with a shot. They kept up the pressure relentlessly,
and after three minutes, which were later described as "the greatest three
minutes in the history of football",[15] Vavá gave Brazil the lead.]


One of his many brothers baptized him Garrincha, the name of an ugly, useless
little bird. When he started playing soccer, doctors made the sign of the
cross. They predicted that this misshapen survivor of hunger and polio, dumb
and lame, with the brain of an infant, a spinal column like an S and both
legs bowed to the same side, would never be an athlete.

	Alguno de sus muchos hermanos lo bautizó Garrincha,
	que es el nombre de un pajarito inútil y feo.  [a wren]

	[more likely, the name was given by his sister rosa, see links below]

There never was another right winger like him.  In the '58 world cup he was
the best in his position, in the '62 the best player in the championship.
But throughout his many years on the field, Garrincha was more: in the
entire history of soccer no one made more people happy.

When he was playing, the field became a circus ring, the ball a tame beast, the
game an invitation to party. Like a child defending his pet, Garrincha
wouldn't let go of the ball, and the ball and he would perform devilish
tricks that had people dying of laughter. He would jump on her, she would hop
on him, she would hide, he would escape, she would chase after him. In the
process, the opposing players would crash into each other, their legs
twisting around until they would fall, seasick, to the ground. Garrincha did
his rascal's mischief at the edge of the field, along the right touchline,
far from the center: raised in the shantytown suburbs, that is where he

He played for a club called Botafogo, which means "firelighter," and he was
the botafogo who fired up the fans crazed by fire water and all things
fiery. He was the one who climbed out of the training-camp window because he
heard from far-off back alleys the call of a ball asking to be played with,
music demanding to be danced to, a woman wanting to be kissed.

"A winner? A lucky loser. And luck doesn’t last. As they say in Brazil, if
shit was worth anything, the poor would be born without asses.

"Garrincha died a predictable death: poor, drunk, and alone."  103


--- wiki:garincha:

His father was an alcoholic, drinking cachaça heavily, a problem which
Garrincha would inherit. He had several birth defects: his spine was
deformed, his right leg bent inwards and his left leg six centimeters shorter
and curved outwards, none of which impeded his ability to play football at
the highest level.]
As a baby, he was as small as a wren, a garrincha, said his sister Rosa, and
the nickname stuck.

Paolo Amaral was on the Brazilian coaching staff in the 1950s and remembers
writing a scouting report on the young winger after he moved to Botafogo: "I
wrote that Garrincha is a formidable player, but he has one very small
defect: he dribbles far too much," he said. "This defect was never resolved."
Some officials indulged him: in one game for Botafogo, he dribbled past a
defender and off the pitch, but the referee did not stop play as he wanted to
continue watching him in action.

excerpts from BBC article on Garrincha

Jonathan Stevenson, Remembering the genius of Garrincha BBC 2008 Jan

	With his right leg pointing inwards and his left leg pointing
	outwards, Manuel Fransisco dos Santos seemed more destined to end up
	in a circus than on a football field. ... [he] played with a freedom
	of spirit and, at times, a reckless disregard for the "end product"
	that is difficult to fathom in a sport now dominated by results.

	His biographer, Rui Castro, described the man fans called 'the angel
	with bent legs' as "the most amateur footballer professional football
	ever produced".

	[countless relationships] Garrincha is believed to have fathered at
	least 14 children.

	Former Wales international left-back Mel Hopkins, who lined up
	directly against Garrincha on 19 June, 1958 in Gothenburg in the
	World Cup quarter-final, described to BBC Sport the force of nature
	he was up against that day.

	"When he stood and faced you his legs went one way and his body the
	other, there's no doubt about it, he could have been declared a
	cripple. But my God could he play," said Hopkins, who also won the
	League and FA Cup double with Tottenham in 1961.

	Garrincha takes on Hopkins in the 1958 World Cup quarter-final "He
	attacked with such pace and I believe he was more of a danger than
	Pele at the time - he was a phenomenon, capable of sheer magic.

	"It was difficult to know which way he was going to go because of his
	legs and because he was as comfortable on his left foot as his right,
	so he could cut inside or go down the line and he had a ferocious
	shot too.

	Garrincha's place as one of football's all-time greats was assured at
	the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile. When Pele was injured in the
	second game, Garrincha took on his mantle as leader of the team and
	his dazzling displays inspired Brazil to their second crown.

	He scored twice in the quarters against England, twice more in the
	semis against the hosts and, despite suffering from a fever, helped
	his side to a 3-1 win over Czechoslovakia in the finals.

	The player of the tournament was undoubtedly now a superstar - and he
	acted like one, too. Garrincha spent money like it was going out of
	fashion on a variety of friends, hangers-on, girlfriends and his
	ever-increasing family.

	By the time the 1966 World Cup came around he was a pale imitation of
	the real Garrincha, a long-term knee injury enough to curb the
	electric bursts of speed that had once made him so destructive.

	His last game in a Brazil shirt was their 3-1 defeat by Hungary - the
	first time he had ever been on the losing side for his country in his
	60th appearance.

	He was involved in several car crashes, running over his own father
	once, and then, in April 1969, Garrincha smashed into a lorry and his
	mother-in-law was killed, an incident which only accelerated his

	Soares and he separated in 1977, Garrincha too consumed by alcohol to
	be of any use to anyone.

	Six years later on 20 January, 1983 at the age of 49 - just 21 years
	after he was widely recognised as the greatest footballer on earth -
	Garrincha died of cirrhosis of the liver, attached to a drip in a Rio

	One of the most extraordinary entertainers sport is ever likely to
	see passed away in misery, penniless and unable to conquer the demons
	that cut his life so tragically short.


A hundred songs name him. At seventeen he was champion of the world and king
of soccer. Before he was twenty the government of Brazil named him a
"national treasure" that could not be exported. He won three world
championships with the Brazilian team and two with the club Santos. After his
thousandth goal, he kept on counting. He played more than thirteen hundred
matches in eighty countries, one game after another at a punishing rate, and
he scored nearly thirteen hundred goals. Once he held up a war: Nigeria and
Biafra declared a truce to see him play.

To see him play was worth a truce and a lot more. When Pele ran hard he cut
right through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. When he stopped,
his opponents got lost in the labyrinths his legs embroidered. When he
jumped, he climbed into the air as if there were a staircase. When he
executed a free kick, his opponents in the wall wanted to turn around and
face the net, so as not to miss the goal.

He was born in a poor home in a far-off village, and he reached the summit of
power and fortune where blacks were not allowed. Off the field he never gave
a minute of his time, and a coin never fell from his pocket. But those of us
who were lucky enough to see him play received alms of an extraordinary
beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that they make us believe
immortality exists. 133

goal by puskas

It was 1961. Real Madrid was playing at home against Atletico of Madrid.

No sooner had the game begun when Ferenc Puskas scored a double goal, just as
Zizinho had in the '50 World Cup. The Hungarian striker for Real Madrid
executed a free kick at the edge of the box and the ball went in. But as
Puskas celebrated with his arms in the air the referee went up to him. "I'm
sorry," he said, "but I didn't whistle."

So Puskas shot again. He kicked the ball with his left foot, as before, and
the ball traveled the same path: like a cannonball over the heads of the same
players in the wall and just like the goal that had been disallowed, it
landed in the upper left corner of the net tended by Madinabeytia, who leapt
as before and, as before, was unable even to graze it. 111

goal by pele

It was 1969. Santos was playing Vasco da Gama in Maracana satdium.

Pele crossed the field in a flash, evading his opponents without ever
touching the ground, and when he was about to enter the goal with the ball he
was tripped.

The referee whistled a penalty. Pele didn't want to take it. A hundred
thousand people forced him to, screaming out his name.

Pele had scored many goals in the Maracana. Prodigious goals, like the one in
1961 against Fluminense when he dribbled past seven defenders and the
goalie. But this penalty was different: people felt there was something
sacred about it. That's why the noisiest crowd in the world fell silent. The
clamour disappeared as if obeying an order: no one spoke, no one
breathed. All of a sudden the stands seemed empty and so did the field. Pele
and the goalie, Andrada, were alone. By themselves, they waited. Pele stood
by the ball resting on the penalty spot. Twelve paces beyond stood Andrada,
hunched over at the ready, between the two posts.

The goalkeeper managed to graze the ball, but Pele nailed it to the net. It
was his thousandth goal. No other player in the history of professional
football had ever scored a thousand goals.

Then the multitude came back to life and jumped like a child overjoyed,
lighting up the night. 131-2

soccer and the generals

At the victory carnival in 1970, General Médici, dictator of Brazil, handed out
cash to the players, posed for photographers with the trophy in his arms, and even
headed a ball for the cameras. The march composed for the team, "Forward
Brazil," became the government's anthem, while the image of Pelé soaring above
the field was used in TV ads that claimed: "No one can stop Brazil." When
Argentina won the World Cup in 1978, General Videla used the image of
Kempes, unstoppable as a hurricane, for exactly the same purpose. 138

goal by maradona

It was 1973. The juvenile teams of Argentinos Juniors and River Plate faced
off in Buenos Aires.

Number 10 for Argentinos received the ball from the keeper, evaded River's
centre forward and took off. Several players tried to block his path: he put
it over the first one's tail, between the legs of the second, and he fooled
the third with a backheel. Then, without a pause, he paralyzed the defenders,
left the keeper sprawled on the ground, and walked the ball into the net. On
the field stood seven crushed boys and four more with their mouths agape.

That kid's team, the Cebollitas, went undefeated for a hundred games and
caught the attention of the press. One of the players, "Poison", who was
thirteen, declared: "We play for fun. We'll never play for money. When
there's money in it, everybody kills themselves to be a star and that's when
jealousy and selfishness take over."

As he spoke he had his arm around the best-loved player of all, who was also
the shortest and the happiest: Diego Armando Maradona, who was twelve and had
just scored that incredible goal.

Maradona had the habit of sticking out his tongue when he was on the
attack. All his goals were scored with his tongue out. By night he slept with
his arms around the ball and by day he performed miracles with it. He lived
in a poor home in a poor neighborhood and he wanted to be an industrial
technician. 139

the owners of the ball

FIFA, which holds court in Zurich, the International Olympic Committee, which
rules from Lausanne, and ISL Marketing, which runs things from Lucerne,
manage the World Cup and the Olympics. All three of these powerful
organizations maintain their head offices in Switzerland, a country famous
for William Tell's marksmanship, precision watches and religious devotion to
bank secrecy. Coincidentally, all three possess an extraordinary degree of
modesty when it comes to the money which passes through their hands, and that
which in their hands remains. 146

the managements

The days are long gone when the most important clubs in the world belonged to
the fans and the players. In those remote times, the club president went
around with a bucket of lime and a brush to paint the lines on the field, and
as for directors, their most extravagant act was footing the bill for a
celebratory feast in the neighborhood pub. 187


author's confession			   1
soccer					   2
the player				   3
the goalkeeper				   4
the idol				   5
the fan					   7
the fanatic				   8
the goal				   9
the referee				   10
the manager				   11
the theater				   13
the specialists				   14
the language of soccer doctors		   15
choreographed war			   17
the language of war			   18
the stadium				   19
the ball				   20
the origins				   22
the rules of the game			   25
the english invasions			   27
creole soccer				   30
the story of fla and flu		   32
the opiate of the people?		   33
a flag that rolls			   34
the blacks				   38
zamora					   39
samitier				   40
death on the field			   41
friedenreich				   41
from mutilation to splendor		   42
the second discovery of america		   44
andrade					   47
ringlets				   48
the olympic goal			   49
goal by piendibene			   50
the bicycle kick			   51
scarone					   51
goal by scarone				   52
the occult forces			   53
goal by nolo				   54
the 1930 world cup			   54
nasazzi					   57
camus					   57
juggernauts				   58
professionalism				   59
the 1934 world cup			   60
god and the devil in rio de janeiro	   62
the sources of misfortune		   64
amulets and spells			   65
erico					   67
the 1938 world cup			   68
goal by meazza				   71
leonidas				   72
domingos				   73
domingos and she			   74
goal by atilio				   74
the perfect kiss would like to be unique   75
the machine				   76
moreno					   77
pedernera				   79
goal by severino			   80
bombs					   81
the man who turned iron into wind	   82
contact therapy				   82
goal by martino				   84
goal by heleno				   84
the 1950 world cup			   85
obdulio					   88
barbosa					   89
goal by zarra				   90
goal by zizinho				   91
the fun-lovers				   92
the 1954 world cup			   92
goal by rahn				   94
walking advertisements			   95
goal by di stetano			   98
di stelano				   99
goal by garrincha			   100
the 1958 world cup			   100
goal by nilton				   103
garrincha				   103
didi					   105
didi and she				   105
kopa					   106
carrizo					   107
shirt fervor				   108
goal by puskas				   111
goal by sanfilippo			   112
the 1962 world cup			   114
goal by chariton			   116
yashin					   117
goal by gente				   118
seeler					   119
matthews				   120
the 1966 world cup			   120
greaves					   123
goal by backenbauer			   124
eusebio					   125
curse of the three posts		   125
penarol's glory years			   127
goal by rocha				   128
my poor beloved mother			   128
tears don't flow from a handkerchief	   129
goal by pele				   131
pele					   132
the 1970 world cup			   133
goal by jairzinho			   135
the fiesta				   136
soccer and the generals			   138
blinks					   139
goal by maradona			   139
the 1974 world cup			   140
cruyff					   143
muller					   144
havelange				   145
the owners of the ball			   146
Jesus					   150
the 1978 world cup			   152
hapiness				   154
goal by gemmill				   156
goal by bettega				   156
goal by sunderland			   158
the 1982 world cup			   160
pears from an elm			   160
platini					   162
pagan sacrifices			   163
the 1986 world cup			   165
the telecracy				   168
serious and in series			   171
running drug stores			   172
chants of scorn				   173
anything goes				   175
indigestion				   178
the 1990 world cup			   170
goal by rincon				   181
hugo sanchez				   182
the cicada and the ant			   183
gullit					   184
parricide				   185
goal by zico				   186

a sport of evasion			   187
the 1994 world cup			   190
romario					   193
baggio					   194
a few numbers				   194
the duty of losing			   196
the sin of losing			   197
maradona				   199
they don't count for beans		   204
an export industry			   206
end of the game				   208
epilogue to the 1999 edition		   211
the 1998 world cup			   211
stars					   213
prices					   214
foot labor				   215
advertisements				   216
roots					   217
africans				   218
fervor					   219
latin americans				   219
dutch					   220
french					   220
fish					   221
the sources				   223

yashin 117


When Lev Yashin covered the goal, not a pinhole was left open. This giant with long spidery arms always dressed in black and played with a naked elegance that disdained unnecessary gestures. He liked to stop thundering blasts with a single claw-like hand that trapped and shredded any projectile, while his body remained motionless like a rock. He could deflect the ball with a glance.

He retired from soccer several times, always pursued by torrents of gratitude, and several times he returned. There was no other like him. During more than a quarter of a century, this Russian blocked over a hundred penalty shots and saved who-knows-how-many goals. When asked for his secret, he'd say the trick was to have a smoke to calm your nerves, then toss back a strong drink to tone your muscles.

The realm of magic (Galeano on the 2010 world cup)

Anything can happen in football, they say. Eduardo Galeano looks back on the
World Cup and agrees.

Colombian Pacho Marturana, a man with vast experience in these battles, says
that football is a magical realm where anything can happen. And this World
Cup has confirmed his words: it was an unusual World Cup.

The 10 stadiums where the Cup was played were unusual, beautiful, immense,
and cost a fortune. Who knows how South Africa will be able to keep these
cement behemoths operating, a multimillion-dollar waste that is easy to
explain but hard to justify in one of the most unjust countries in the

The Adidas ‘Jabulani’ ball was unusual, slippery and half mad, fled hands and
disobeyed feet. It was introduced despite the fact that the players didn’t
like it at all. But from their castle in Zurich, the tsars of football
impose, they dont propose. That's their way.

It was also unusual that finally the all-powerful bureaucracy of FIFA at
least recognized, after so many years, that it would have to find a way to
help the referees in decisive plays. It isn’t much, but it's something. And
it was time. Even these voluntarily deaf functionaries must have been able to
hear the racket set off by the errors of certain referees, which reached the
level of horror in the final game. Why must we see on television what the
referees didn’t or perhaps were unable to see? 

It was unusual that just a few rounds into the first African World Cup in
history, no African country, the host included, was left in the running. Only
Ghana survived until its defeat by Uruguay in the most moving game of the
whole competition.

It was unusual that the majority of the African teams retained their agility
and yet lost their inventiveness and daring. Many ran but few danced. Some
believe that the coaches of these teams, almost all European, had a hand in
this general chilling of their play. If this is the case, they did no favour
to a game that promised so much joy and exuberance. Africa sacrificed its
virtues in the name of efficiency, but there was a distinct lack of

It was unusual that certain African players were able to excel, but in
European teams. When Ghana played Germany, the Boateng brothers were playing
against one another, one in the Ghanaian jersey, the other in the German. Of
the members of the Ghanaian team, not one played in the local Ghanaian
championship. Yet everyone on the German team played in the German local
championship.  Like Latin America, Africa exports manual- and foot-labour.

The best save of the championship was unusual. It wasn’t made by a goalie but
a striker. Using both hands, right at the goal line, Uruguayan Luis Suarez
stopped a ball that would have taken his team out of the tournament. Thanks
to this act of patriotic madness, he was expelled but his team was not.

The voyage of Uruguay was unusual, from its lows to its highs. Our country,
which qualified for the World Cup in last place, and barely, after a
difficult classification, played with dignity, never quitting, and ended up
being one of the best teams. Certain cardiologists warned us, in the press,
that excessive happiness could be dangerous to our health. Many Uruguayans,
who seem condemned to die of boredom, celebrated this risk, and the streets
of the country ignited in a giant party. In the end, the right to celebrate
one's own accomplishments is always preferable to the pleasure that some take
in the misfortune of others.

We finished in fourth place, which isn’t so bad for the only country that
kept the championship from turning into simply a Eurocup. And it is no
accident that Diego Forlan was elected best player of the championship.

It was unusual for the champion and runner-up of the last World Cup to go
home without opening their luggage.

In 2006, Italy and France met at the final game. This time they met at the
exit of the airport. In Italy there was an outcry of criticism of playing
football in a way intended mostly to keep a rival from playing.

In France, the disaster provoked a political crisis and incited racist fury
because almost all of the players who sang the Marseillaise in South Africa
were black

It was unusual that the most acclaimed and awaited superstars didn’t rise to
the occasion. Lionel Messi wanted to be there, did what he could, and was
seen for a bit. And they say that Cristiano Ronaldo was there, but no one saw
him: perhaps he was too busy looking at himself.

It was unusual that a new star rose unexpected from the depths of the sea and
reached the heights of the football firmament: an octopus who lives in an
aquarium in Germany where he makes his predictions. His name is Paul but he
may as well be called Octodamus. Before each of the games of the World Cup,
he was given a choice between mussels wearing flags of the competing
teams. He always ate the mussels of the winning team and never made a

This eight-legged oracle had a decisive effect on the betting and was heeded
around the world with religious reverence, loved and hated, and even
slandered by a resentful few, like myself, who came to suspect, without
proof, that the octopus was corrupt.

It was unusual that at the end of the competition, justice was done, which is
infrequent in both football and life.

For the first time ever, Spain won the World Cup.

It had waited almost a century.

The octopus has announced it and Spain did away with my suspicions: it won
cleanly, it was the best team of the tournament, because of its hard work and
its solidarity on the field, one for all and all for one, and because of the
stunning ability of the little magician named Andres Iniesta.

He proved that sometimes, in the magical realm of football, there is justice.

When the World Cup started, I mounted on the door of my house a card saying,
Closed for football. When I removed it one month later, I had watched 64
games, beer in hand, without moving from my preferred chair.

This feat left me a wreck, my muscles aching, my throat shot, and yet I am
already nostalgic.

I am already beginning to miss the unbearable litany of the vuvuzelas, the
emotion of the goals warned of by the cardiologist, the beauty of the best
plays replayed in slow motion. And the celebration and the mourning, because
at times football is a joy that hurts, and the music played to celebrate a
victory that would make the dead dance sounds very close to the clamorous
silence of the empty stadium, where night has fallen, and one of those
defeated is still sitting, unable to move, alone in the vast sea of steps.

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This article last updated on : 2014 Jun 18