Ramblings on Argieball and other nonsense
Monthly Archives: January 2011
Whereas the fortunes of the team haven’t changed too much really, the perception of Messi certainly has. Argentina went out in the quarters, as always, and though it’s a cheap, somewhat trite line, Messi’s performances mirrored the fate of la Selección – truly scintillating at times but ultimately bullied and scuppered with not a little ignominy. Ne’ertheless, he came out with his reputation enhanced. Pegamequemegusta contends that the delay in appointing Batista was not just due to doubts in the AFA – it was about the consolidation of power, making Batista squirm for a few months as the learned beards down Viamonte way feigned to be overseeing his work, judging it according to their celestial wisdom. Moreover, and especially with the ousting of such a massive media personality as Maradona, the absence of any manager at all meant that there was a vacuum. Now it’s not strange that stories about Messi should fill that vacuum – he’s everywhere, after all – but it has been rather perplexing to see the change in how Messi is represented.
Whereas before Lionel was a soulless waif, a confused but brilliant child, an uncharismatic crack, almost someone who was only to be tolerated as long as he was providing the goods (and pilloried when he wasn’t), these days Messi is presented as a strong man, a man to be listened to, an iron-willed leader, a ruthless prince covered in the blood of his legion victims with his eye trained coldly on the cup of destiny. The years he spent solely triumphing in Catalonia was but his Mío Cid phase – exiled by a confused king he racks up victory after victory routing the Moors in Valencia along the way but always sends back his booty to the king, who doesn’t recognise him, just to prove his love and devotion. It’s like the loser kid in the neighbourhood who no-one ever paid any attention to until he got that SNES and henceforth your destinies were inextricably bound, his opinion now counted when decisions were being made such as whether the ball had gone over the invisible crossbar or not. Continue reading
The initial blitzkrieg, though, was a move on the monopoly’s cash cow, TyC, the cable sports channel. In August 2009 the start of the Clausura was delayed as the players’ union demanded that outstanding wages be paid. The clubs put on the poor mouth and started muttering things about the rains being late and the crops failing; their mothers were all sick and needed medicine; badgers had stolen their favourite cheque-signing pen. Their accounting procedures, of course, were impeccable, so there was nothing to look into there. Yet they could hardly be accused of having held on to too many players over the years – the trafficking of promising young talent . major leagues such as Portugal, Greece, Belgium and the Ukraine having continued unabated. So where had the money gone?
Well, it was clear the TV deal with the evil monopoly wasn’t paying enough! Cristina and Nestor Kirchner and erstwhile foe don Julio sat down together and tore up the existing agreement. Gone was the pernicious entity that had been ruining Argeieball by denying it the precious funds needed for it to keep up the fantastic work it had been doing; discarded the ludicrous idea that people should have to pay to see the most popular games on TV (TyC had been showing the clashes between the ‘smaller’ teams and other largely unappealing Friday night clashes on free-to-air telly). Now every match would be on tv and people wouldn’t have to wait for the brilliant Fútbol de Primera (the Argentine Match of the Day, on Sunday nights) to see the goals. Said la Presidenta:
They kidknapped our goals until Sunday, just as they kidnapped 30,000 of us.
Oh, pero oh dear. Sorry, Cristina, you know pegamequemegusta loathes the idea of reducing all your work to one extremely poor choice of words, but such a crass, inept, pathetic analogy, linking a football highlights programme to the abduction, torture and murder of 30,000 people some 30 years before, is Absolute Zero in terms of political credibility. Despite all the good work done by the Kirchners, especially the late Nestor Kirchner, in the field of human rights and facing up to the past, lines like that disclose the opportunism in an otherwise noble enterprise, the cheap while-we’re-at-it-why-don’t-we-carve-ourselves-and-our-mates-out-a-little-fiefdom side to righting the wrongs of the past. It was billed as the democratisation of football, the end of the dictatorship, again. Fútbol para todos, football for everyone! A socialist paradise of nationalised football. Anything that costs money is evil, after all, even in a land where money’s ability to decline in value would shock even Joleon Lescott, oho.
In order to sort out the clubs’ balance sheets, the government would now be paying two or three times more what the tightwad TyC had begrudgingly tossed the poor, starving clubs. The money for this would be no problem: the government had already earmarked some $400m for advertising, which, rather happily for us, in castellano translates as propaganda. There would be no silly ads or anything during the matches, just extended messages to the grateful people about what a good job the government are doing and how did you know Clarín actually eats babies and uses the pieces of skin that come out in their excrement to print newspapers, honest. Continue reading
Carlitos was summoned for a meeting and left a chastened man, like Howard Beale after meeting Jensen in Network: “You have meddled with the primal forces of Nature, Mr Beale, and I will not have it!” Olé, which Grondona owns a great share of, forgot their childish ideals and started cheerleading for Chechinho 2014.
Now, even the inocuous things that had gone on while Maradona was in charge were being compared to the new sanity, the pleasantness of life with the serene, the mild-mannered, the easy-going Checho Batista, a man who shirks ‘explosive words’ and victory dances, the ‘anti-Maradona’. The pieces in Olé in the aftermath of the 4-1 friendly win against Spain, who then went on to lose 5-0 against Portugal, are notable for their obsession with don Julio’s smile and Checho’s suit – even after the game his tie was still in place! My word, sign him up. They also proclaim in a banner headline that there was no chanting of Diego’s name during the game, while muttering under their breath that tickets cost AR$450 (25-30% of a normal monthly wage).
Despite the fact that the AFA was arguably more responsible, for example, there was a piece comparing the Selección’s tumultuous, hooligan-infested flight to South Africa with the chilled out love-in that was the journey to Dublin for the August friendly. Cheap, cheap stuff. Continue reading