Back in the throes of July when pegamequemegusta was still but a shivering wreck on the bathroom floor, things were quite different. If there was no particular cause for any ill-feeling towards Checho Batista, coverage of Maradona’s divorce from the AFA was indeed characterised by anger and some degree of sincerity. Of course, El Diego was still thrashing around accusing Bilardo and Grondona of betrayal most foul, as in the best it is. Carlitos Tevez, too, spoke out in Dublin at Grondona’s hypocrisy and some of the other nonsense affecting Argieball. Olé, unsure whose tune to call, quite rightly decided to lambast everyone. They spoke of farce, of shame, of disgrace heaped upon disgrace; there was talk of revolution, ¡afuera todos! Bilardo appeared on one cover crudely photoshopped as Osama bin Laden:
The storm clouds were dissipated, however, as don Julio intervened, spreading a beautiful rainbow across the sky. 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). A different kind of public, plus an early goal, will do that for you; only someone with a keenly-felt agenda would splash it across a page. 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.
Even when decent writers for Olé like Marcelo Sottile dare to nag, criticism of the AFA never goes any further than mere implication:
When Basile left they accused Maradona of betrayal. When Maradona leaves, he calls Bilardo a traitor. Grondona? Nothing. He’s the World Champ at keeping himself spick and span. And so we have scandal after scandal after scandal concerning the Selección and tomorrow they have to do with such and such a thing and the day after that with such and such a person, but always, without fail, the goings on give you the impression that the truth is being handed out in doses. We find out about everything in a roundabout way, an ambiguous way, never directly. Everything we learn has great big red lines through it, it’s been interfered with, or they’re mere murky surmisings. It’s half-truths and doublethink. We never know what it would be healthy to know. And the Great Houdini soldiers on.
Sottile here, though, is arguably engaged in the same kind of roundabout nonsense. He singles out the common denominator to what he correctly denotes as scandals yet then backs off. ‘Great Houdini’, jaysus. Either call him an incestuous, adulterate beast, a satyr to the Hyperionic spirit of long-suffering Argieball, call him out as the canker in the sapstream of a host whose survival is due only to a miraculous, Bruce Willis-style resilience as genius players keep sprouting from rotten branches. Follow through or go work for someone else.
It’s not all whitewash, then, it’s not barefaced propaganda, but there’s a clear refusal to stick to any idea of what should be done with regard to football in the country, let alone take on the AFA. Insofar as there exists any kind of editorial policy or conscience, it’s that of a capricious, mouthy, somewhat misogynistic, manic-depressive. The personages of Argieball are disparaged or rehabilitated according to the needs of the day, according to the valence shell of their orbit round the nucleus, don Julio. It will come of no surprise that Dr Bilardo soon found himself the subject of pieces in Olé where they marvelled dopily at his ability to come out of the power struggle with Diego with more influence than before. Whereas relatively recently, it had been clear that, traitor or no, he should just feck off, the Doc now found himself reincarnated as some kind of Jorge Valdano figure. Indeed, he should probably just feck off, too, but still seems to be propped up by Marca.
And here we shall take up the demonstration,
revelation, and account of how things were put
in shadow and brought to light
by the Maker, Modeler, named Bearer,
Hunahpu Possum, Hunahpu
Great White Peccary, Tapir,
Sovereign Plumed Serpent,
Heart of the Lake, Heart of
Maker of the Blue-Green
Maker of the Blue-Green
As they are called, also named, also described
the midwife, matchmaker
named Xpiyacc, Xmucane,
twice a midwife, twice a
as is said in the words of Quiche. They
accounted for everything, and did it, too as
enlightened beings, in enlightened words. We
shall write about this now amide the preaching
of God, in Christendom now. We shall bring it
there is no longer a place to see it, a Council
Book (‘Popul Vuh’)
a place to see ‘The Light That Came From
Across the Sea’
the account of ‘Our Place in the Shadows’,
a place to see: ‘The Dawn of