Are you ready for some Fútbol?

February 4, 2012

Originated in the United Kingdom in the mid 1800s, it was then just a simple ball being kicked around in across your opponent’s goal line. Add a little rugby into the mix and you get Gridiron Football ( referring to the grid on the field). Good old American football; a money-making machine for some, a religion for others. For the ones that could care less, such as myself, still contribute to the Super Bowl ratings by enjoying the commercials, the half time show and the party in good company.

Football, American football…Well there is no need to be terminologically accurate as there is technically no other type of football ( please, no one cares about Canadian football … sorry Alouettes).

As the Brits say: “Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen and Fútbol (as in soccer) is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans“. So what is Football then? As the Brits didn’t bother to comment, because of their non involvement perhaps, I’ll complete the quote myself. “Football is not a game and no one involved is playing“.

This institution as the highest rate of injury and death than any other sports. Keep in mind that one season is only 16 games during a 17-week period. Even if some athletes are lucky enough to retire in one piece, the majority of them will manifest signs of dementia, Parkinson, tremors, pathological paranoia, loss of memory and lack of coordination thanks to the portfolio of concussions that came along with their contracts.

“We can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. One inch, at a time. Because in either gamelife or football the margin for error is so small.

I’ll tell you this, in any fight, it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch.
And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because I am still willing to fight and die for that inch because that is what living is.

That’s a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is.”

– Al Pacino’s Inch by Inch speech in “Any Given Sunday”.

Ay Dios mio! Makes us think twice before enrolling our children into football. Suburbs, slums and barrios all over the world opt for fútbol! A much safer option. Well it does seem safer for the ones that are oblivious to the dark side of soccer.

Hopefully you have already read a few of my posts and are familiar enough with my blog to catch the sarcasm in my comments. If not, then be aware that, as we continue our adventure together, I will be less and less insinuating and you will have to be more and more crafty.

A few days ago, scores of soccer fans died during a riot at a soccer match in Egypt. As we witnessed the Arab Spring bloom into the Arab Summer, then Winter and then another Spring, then Summer ( … you get my point); we might associate these riots with political unrest. Think again. Fútbol Hooliganism and riots are very common all over the world. They are not only accepted but expected. Forget about the skinny teenager, equipped with a walkie-talkie, clothed with a bright colour vest over his uniform, working part-time at the stadium to pay for his education. In most countries, you need to watch out for actual full geared military men, armed with AK-47s and cyanogen gas.

Here are just few examples of fútbol/soccer related incidents:

April 5, 1902 – Glasgow, Scotland; 25 killed and 517 injured when a wall collapses.

March 9, 1946 – Bolton, England; 33 people are killed and over 400 injured when a wall collapses. The collapse crushes fans together and sparks a stampede.

March 30, 1955 – Santiago, Chile; Six died when 70,000 tried to jam into the stadium for the finals of the South American soccer tournament.

May 24, 1964 – Lima, Peru; 318 people are killed and another 500 injured in riots after Argentina beats Peru in an Olympic qualifying match. The pandemonium breaks out when the referee disallows a Peruvian goal in the final two minutes.

June 23, 1968 – Buenos Aires, Argentina; 74 people are killed and over 150 injured when fans trying to leave the stadium mistakenly head toward a closed exit and are crushed against the doors by other fans unaware of the closed passageway.

Jan. 2, 1971 – Glasgow, Scotland; 66 people are killed and 140 are injured when barriers in Ibrox Stadium collapse and fans are crushed.

March 4, 1971 – Salvador, Brazil; A fight and a wild rush broke out in the grandstands, killing four and injuring 1,500.

Feb. 17, 1974 – Cairo, Egypt; Crowds attempting to enter a club game broke down barriers and 49 people were trampled to death.

Oct. 31, 1976 – Yaounde, Cameroon; After a penalty kick was awarded to Cameroon in a World Cup qualifying match vs. the Congo, the Congolese goalie attacked the Gambian referee. A fight broke out and the president of Cameroon, watching the game at home on television, sent in paratroopers by helicopter. Two bystanders died.

Dec. 6, 1976 – Port-au-Prince, Haiti; At a World Cup qualifier between Haiti and Cuba, the visitors scored and a Haitian fan set off a firecracker. Fans thought it was gunfire and panicked, knocking down a soldier, whose gun went off and killed a small boy and girl in the crowd. Further panic caused two people to be trampled to death, and one man died jumping over a wall. The soldier committed suicide.

Oct. 20, 1982 – Moscow; 340 are killed at a European Cup match. Police are blamed for pushing fans down a narrow, icy staircase before the end of the match. When a late goal is scored, exiting fans try to re-enter the stadium.

May 11, 1985 – Bradford, England; 56 people die when a cigarette stub ignites a stadium’s wooden terrace section and fire engulfs the structure.

May 29, 1985 – Brussels, Belgium; 39 people are killed at the European Champions Cup Final when riots break out and a wall separating rival fans collapses.

March 10, 1987 – Tripoli, Libya; 20 people are killed when panic-stricken fans flee knife-wielding ruffians and trigger the collapse of a wall (Libyan state news agency said only two people were killed and 16 were hospitalized.).

March 12, 1988 – Katmandu, Nepal; At least 93 people are killed and more than 100 injured when fans fleeing a hailstorm stampede into locked stadium exits.

April 15, 1989 – Sheffield, England; 96 people are crushed to death when police open gates to alleviate crowding outside Hillsborough Stadium. The resulting rush of people onto the already filled terrace sections traps fans against riot control fences ringing the field.

Jan. 13, 1991 – Orkney, South Africa; at least 40 people are killed, most of them trampled or crushed along riot-control fences that surround the field, when fans panic and try to escape brawls that break out in the grandstand.

May 5, 1992 – Bastia, Corsica; 17 people are killed and 1,900 injured when a temporary grandstand, erected to increase the capacity of the stadium from 8,500 to 18,000, collapsed.

June 16, 1996 – Lusaka, Zambia; Nine soccer fans were crushed to death and 78 others injured during a stampede over Sudan in a World Cup qualifying game.

July 14, 1996 – Tripoli, Libya; A riot at a soccer match involving a team controlled by a son of Gaddafi killed or injured up to 50 people. No exact figures were reported in the Libyan-controlled press.

Oct. 16, 1996 – Guatemala City; At least 78 people died and about 180 others were injured during a stampede at a stadium before a World Cup qualifying match.

April 6, 1997 – Lagos, Nigeria; 5 fans were crushed to death and more than a dozen were hospitalized when the crowd of 40,000 head for exits and three of the five main gates were locked.

April 23, 2000 – Monrovia, Liberia; At least 3 reported dead and others injured as thousands of fans forced their way into an overcrowded stadium for a World Cup qualifier.

July 9, 2000 – Harare, Zimbabwe; 13 people died after a stampede at World Cup qualifier.

April 11, 2001 – Johannesburg, South Africa; 47 people were killed during a league match in an overcrowded soccer stadium. People outside tried to push into Ellis Park stadium and were trapped against barbed wire. Police had earlier fired tear gas at people stampeding outside the stadium.

Feb. 1, 2012 – Port Said, Egypt; at least 73 were killed as fans of rival soccer teams rushed the field following an upset victory. Fans hurled stones and sticks at each other, sparking a stampede.

While head of states, presidents, prime ministers, drug barons and dictators argue over policies, oil and land, most share something in common, which can even be shared with their people: the love of soccer. It even seems as if their love may even be directly proportional to their cruelty and tyranny.

Near the end of his reign, while Pablo Escobar was running from the authorities, despite the fact that his life was in danger, Pablo listened to a radio broadcast of one of Colombia’s matches.

I cannot miss this opportunity to urge you to watch one of the best documentaries ever made: “The Two Escobars“. It reflects the parallels between crime and sports.

On this note, let’s blow our vuvuzzelas in honor of the “die hard” fans everywhere !!! Goooooooaaaaaaaaalll !!!!!!!!!

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

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One Response to “Are you ready for some Fútbol?”

  1. Vince said

    NIce . I will def the : “The Two Escobars tonight…

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