World Cup 2010

Why Soccer is not Just Another Sport

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  Creole Soccer 1915

  The Argentine football association did not allow Spanish to be spoken at the meetings of its directors and the UruguayAssociation Football League outlawed Sunday games because it was a British custom to play on Saturday. But by the first years of the century, soccer was becoming popular and nationalized on the shores of the River Plate. This diversion first imported to entertain the lazy offspring of the well-off had escaped from its high window-box, came to earth and was setting down roots.

  The process was unstoppable. Like the tango, soccer blossomed in the slums. It required no money and could be played with nothing more than sheer desire. In fields, in alleys and on beaches, native-born kids and young immigrants improvised games using balls made from old socks filled with rags or paper, and a coupld of stones fro a goal. Thanks to the language of the game, which soon became universal, workers driven out of the countryside could communicate  perfectly well with workers driven out of Europe. The Esperanto of the ball connected poor Creoles with peons who had crossed the sea from Vigo, Lisbon, Naples, Beirut or Besarabia with their dreams of “hacer la America” – making a new world by building, carrying, baking or sweeping. Soccer had made a lovely voyage, first orgainized in the colleges and universities of England, it brought joy to the lives of South Americans who never set foot in a school.

  On the fields of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, a style was born. A home-grown way of playing soccer, like the home-grown way fo dancing which was being invented in the milonga clubs. Dancers drew filigrees on a single floor tile, and soccer players created their own languagein that tiny space where they chose to retain and possess the ball than than kick it, as if their feet were hands braiding the leather. On the feet of the first Creole virtuosos el torque, the touch, was born: the ball was strummed as if were a guitar, a source of music.

  from Soccer in the Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano
the best soccer book ever written

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