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In the Game pp 95-115 | Cite as

Race and Silence in Argentine Football

  • Grant Farred

Abstract

On the main highway leading from the airport into downtown Buenos Aires, a few miles before you reach the famous Avenida de Julio, the main street that goes through the heart of the city, there is a twenty-story apartment complex. Emblazoned on it in the winter of 2001 was a mural of Juan Sebastian Veron (in the colors of his then new club Manchester United, where he stayed for only two seasons), impeccably manicured goatee and all. Before the disastrous World Cup 2002 campaign, the stylish midfielder was an Argentine national hero. The image on that building is a salient one, both because of who Veron is and who he is not. That mural is a signal accomplishment for the unsettled midfielder; having struggled to put his stamp on Chelsea (the west London club that plays in the English Premier League) as he did at Lazio (of Italy’s Serie A), Veron now seems increasingly likely to head back to Italy to play his club football—Inter Milan is rumored to be his favored destination. Surprisingly, in a nation that loves forwards, especially wayward, inspirational ones, here the Argentine capital chose to honor a midfielder. Moreover, Veron hails from the hinterland city of La Plata, a flat, sprawling garrison town with a strong border ethos—even though it is less than an hour from Buenos Aires. Veron’s attachment to Buenos Aires, or “Baires” as it is more commonly known, is only secondary, a product of his brief stint with the city’s most popular and populist club, Boca Juniors.

Keywords

Racial Identity Club Football National Team Postcolonial Theory Football Field 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Eduardo Galeano, Football In Sun And Shadow, trans. Mark Fried (London: The Fourth Estate, 2003) 152.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    There is considerable ideological conflict between Menotti and Bilardo, the former accusing the latter of employing a more brutal style of play that dishonors Argentina’s footballing history. Menotti sees himself as the keeper of a purer style than the bruising tactics used by Bilardo in 1986. See Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy (London: Trafalgar Square, 1994) for a discussion of this coaching, intranational animus.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    John Barnes, John Barnes: The Autobiography (London: Headline, 1990), 1.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    L. Richardson, “New Practices in Writing Qualitative Research,” Sociology of Sports Journal 17, no. 1 (2000): 5.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Jose Luis Borges, “The Argentine Writer and Tradition,” in Labyrinths: Selected Short Stories and Other Writings, Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, eds. (New York: New Directions Books, 1964), 180. It is, of course, ironic to invoke Borges in an essay on futbol since he is widely known to have hated the sport. He did, however, write a wonderful short piece on futbol as simulacra (long before Baudrillard thought of the concept) called “Esse Est Percipi.”Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    See David Rock, Argentina 1517–1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  7. and Nicholas Shumway, The Invention of Argentina (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991) for a history of Argentina.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    The notorious “Dirty War,” waged by successive military juntas between 1974 and 1983, has been written about extensively, both within and outside Argentina. See, for example, Diana Taylor, Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s Dirty War (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997);Google Scholar
  9. Alicia Partnoy, The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival, trans. Alicia Partnoy (Pittsburgh: Cleis Press, 1986);Google Scholar
  10. and Horacio Verbitsky, The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior (New York: The New Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  11. See also Elizabeth Jelin, State Repression and the Labors of Memory, trans. Judy Rein and Marcial Godoy-Anativia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003) for a critique of contemporary developments in Latin America, with a special focus on Argentina. U2’s album The Joshua Tree also popularized this struggle with their song “Mothers of the Disappeared.” There is also a whole body of literature on this subject written in Spanish.Google Scholar

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© Amy Bass 2005

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  • Grant Farred

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