Football, politics and unity | El Cronista

Football, politics and unity | El Cronista
Football, politics and unity | El Cronista

Football and politics, although they may seem antagonistic, are actually closely related because both activities are linked to the masses and constitute social movements of broad popular significance in any region of the world, which represent common interests and passions.

Football is, without a doubt, the sport that has the greatest acceptance and notoriety throughout the world, to the point that it is called the King of Sports, which is why many politicians use it as a tool of communication or political deterrence, as the case may be, for electoral purposes or as a social calm, such as the World Championship in Argentina (1978) under Videla, where this sport was used as a cover-up for the crimes and disappearances of the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1981. Or what can we say about Brazil when the dictator Emílio Garrastazu Médici in 1970 tried to use the image of Pelé for political purposes.

But in addition to that, football went from being the sport that attracts the most passion, emotion and people, to becoming the multinational company that moves the most money on the entire planet. Players whose transfer value exceeds 500 million dollars or euros, as well as clubs and magnates that move unsuspected amounts of money. Something that is hard to believe, while in developing countries children and people are dying of hunger. And to this, we add that the big commercial brands use professional football as an excellent means of advertising their products, the teams are sponsored by companies that are interested in being recognized throughout the world, and thus, increase their sales.

In this context, football is the most popular sport in the world, attracting more than 300 million spectators to stadiums, and it is natural that political leaders are interested in taking advantage of the situation and the crowds that this sport attracts.

Over the years, things have changed. Footballers are no longer the ballot box or cannon fodder they used to be in the past. They are now the protagonists of events and openly participate in the political life of their countries, as is the case with several French national team players taking part in the European Championship, led by their captain Kylian Mbappé, Koundé, Konaté and Tchouaméni, among others, who called on people to vote to stop the advance of Le Pen’s fascist far-right, and in this way contributed to the victory of the left with the New Popular Front in France.

Before and in different places *It was done by Diego Armando Maradona, considered the best footballer in the world, who is well known for his left-wing, democratic and progressive political positions.*

But Colombia has not been absent from these demonstrations. Renowned footballers such as Alejandro Brand and Víctor Campaz, in the 70s and 80s, left their mark against reactionary and authoritarian governments such as that of Julio César Turbay, and spoke out on various occasions in favour of social reforms and the demands of the working classes.

The use of sport, especially football, for ideological purposes is old. Mussolini, Hitler and Franco, in the middle of the last century, used this activity in various sporting arenas, including the Olympic Games, as political propaganda and a smokescreen to cover up the reality that existed at the dawn of the Second World War. And there are still memories of this period: the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​the former stirred up by the remnants of Francoism and the Spanish phalanx and the latter by Picasso’s Guernica.
Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine coach of Uruguay, was right in his recent statements regarding the Copa América, when he said: “Football is the property of the people, because the poor have very little access to happiness, because they do not have the money to buy happiness, so this football, which is free and is one of the few things that the poor can enjoy, they no longer have it.”

Indeed, this is a sport that interests many people from different social strata and races: white, black, yellow. It has no nationality. It is a cross-cutting hobby shared by many people, regardless of their profession or ideology. Football fandom has little to do with the profession or activity that a person performs. Football is a social phenomenon.

*Unit*

Having made the above considerations, we understand why football, besides being a passion and a spur to clean the dirty face of bad governments, is also an element of unity. We are seeing the example in Colombia with our national team, which despite all the differences and fractures that we have as a society, we all take on the victories of the national team as our own and are bitter about its defeats.

From Francisco Maturana, through José Néstor Pékerman and now with his pupil Néstor Lorenzo, we have experienced moments and periods of unity with the tricolor. That is where the power of football reaches.

As Maradona said: “The ball does not get dirty”, even if this phenomenon we call football is directed worldwide by a mafia called FIFA.

 
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