An Illegitimate Championship| OP-ED
The recent victory of Argentina’s national football team has one problem: Winning poorly takes away the legitimacy of your victory.
“Lo importante no es llegar primero, sino saber llegar” (“what is important is not to get there first, but to get there first right,”), the popular Mexican song’s lyrics read.
The Argentinian National Soccer Team, its captain, Lionel Messi, and coach, plus 44 million Argentines, were so pressed to win the 2021 Copa América that they did everything in their power to achieve what one could argue is now an illegitimate achievement.
Take, for discussion’s sake, the moment when the Argentinian National Team Goalkeeper, Mr. Dibu Martínez, trash talked a Colombian player, Mr. Jerry Mina, when the latter was about to strike the ball during penalty kicks that defined the game and eventually, the champion — as Brazil was a defeated host team, never mind Neymar and other Brazilian superstars.
Martinez won his team the right to go to that final game, and secure the 2021 championship in favor of Argentina, but at the expense of 50.3 million Colombians, most of them glued to their TV screens watching the game (me being the least). The 11 players dressed in yellow represented in that instant, all the aspirations, frustrations, and soberbia of an entire nation (dare to ask a Colombian what that means...)
In what was left for A Universal History of Infamy (perhaps another chapter for the good book legendary Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges crafted under that telling title), Martinez is captured on video tape with full sound, saying words FIFA should never allow on a field. Football’s governing body should also ban them from ever being repeated when children are watching, listening and learning from us — the adults.
The goalkeeper, from clear European descent, is overheard saying to Colombian player of African descent, Mina, words one might quickly judge as racist, but more importantly, mean-spirited, so much so, a criminal in the streets of Bogotá or Buenos Aires may cringe.
FIFA should never, EVER allow it again on the field.
The referee could have honored his authority by stopping the Argentinian goalkeeper from trash talking the Colombian player. The tape is clear in that regard.
The latter, descendants of people brought in chains to America, must have heard through the harsh words, echoes from the past, bringing back the horrors that ancestors suffered at the hands of people that could have been the Argentinian player’s forefathers.
The 21st century doesn’t need this, not certainly to win a passing sports championship.
When watching the game, I can’t deny, I was offended by Mr Martinez’s deep-wounded insult, but he went on to put salt to the wound by gloating about his deed on international television.
He dishonored his team’s plethora of talent, he brought back memories of the past when the Argentinian were called by the English, “Animals,” or when the same English went out to prove — and forced famous player Diego Maradona to admit — that his second and definite goal in that famous World Cup in Mexico, in Mexico, on June 22nd 1986, at the Estadio Azteca (Aztec Stadium) in Mexico City, when “The Hand of God” was put into play by Argentinian Star Diego Armando Maradona to place the ball (albeit illegally) into the net to defeat (ilegally) England.
Anglosaxon America called out a “a cheat” at the victory of the South American player and his team, throwing us all in the process in the same proverbial bag of “South American cheaters” (Colombians no better than Argentinians, or Chileans..) that don’t know how to win a single one by abiding by written or unwritten rules of human decency, well outside of FIFA’s well known standards.