Eduardo Galeano on Soccer and Brazil
More about this on Friday, but I’m going to be in Rio all next week for the
Confederations Cup Final 2013 Brazilian Publishers Experience. As I’m sure you all know, there’s been a bit of unrest in Brazil as of late (one of the protests on Sunday was staged on the beach right in front of the hotel where I’ll be staying) stemming from all sorts of injustices, including the way Brazil is pumping money in the World Cup (a.k.a. THE GREATEST SPORTING EVENT EVER) instead of, you know, social services and things that could actually help the vast majority of Brazilian citizens. (BTW, as I’m typing this, Brazil just netted a goal to go up 1-0 over Uruguay in the 40th minute.)
World famous, award-winning author Eduardo Galeano came out with this statement
As far as I’m concerned, the explosion of indignation in Brazil is justified. In its thirst for justice, it is similar to other demonstrations that in recent years have shaken many countries in many parts of the world.
Brazilians, who are the most soccer-mad of all, have decided not to allow their sport to be used any more as an excuse for humiliating the many and enriching the few. The fiesta of soccer, a feast for the legs that play and the eyes that watch, is much more than a big business run by overlords from Switzerland. The most popular sport in the world wants to serve the people who embrace it. That is a fire police violence will never put out.
Hell and yes.
And for those of you who are interested, Nation Books (publisher of the best soccer books) is bringing out a new edition of Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow next month.
Here’s the jacket copy:
In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In “Soccer in Sun and Shadow,” Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the “crazy English” spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.
All the greats—Pele, Di Stefano, Cruyff, Eusebio, Puskas, Gullit, Baggio, Beckenbauer— have joyous cameos in this book. yet soccer, Galeano cautions, “is a pleasure that hurts.” Thus there is also heartbreak and madness. Galeano tells of the suicide of Uruguayan player Abdon Porte, who shot himself in the center circle of the Nacional’s stadium; of the Argentine manager who wouldn’t let his team eat chicken because it would bring bad luck; and of scandal-riven Diego Maradona whose real crime, Galeano suggests, was always “the sin of being the best.”
Soccer is a game that bureaucrats try to dull and the powerful try to manipulate, but it retains its magic because it remains a bewitching game—“a feast for the eyes … and a joy for the body that plays it”—exquisitely rendered in the magical stories of “Soccer in Sun and Shadow.”
And with that, I’m signing off to finish writing up my reports for the 11th Korean Translation Award (more on that tomorrow), to watch Brazil triumph (I hope!), and to prepare for my own soccer match tonight (Terminal Cathole!).