June 11, 2009

The nasty side of the beautiful game: fascism

Filed under: opinion article,sports — newritings @ 6:20 pm

Hernan Cortés

When Barça won the Champions League and Pep Guardiola dedicated the cup to the legendary Italian defender Maldini, he showed that he was a progressive and supported an equally progressive fellow footballer. Yes, as a Barça fan the month of May will always be unforgettable. We  won the Cup, the League and the Champions League, the trophy that gives prestige and fame to a football the world over. But the most interesting point about the three-peat is that we’ve done it whilst displaying our soul to the fans (and enemies alike) – the world at large  – that: We’re not just a club, We are more than that! I like what José Sámano wrote  in EL País “we’ve showed everyone what Barça means. We’ve got Lakers, Ferrari, Honda… and now Barça.”

But not everything in the world football is fair play and  happiness as I will explain. For those of us who love football above the game have lived two moments that need deep reflection.  I am talking of two players  “born” from the same soil but with different outlooks. The one, an excellent player (also an Italian defender), decides to retire, after over two decades of top level playing, and instead of being recognised and rewarded for his services he gets booed. I am talking here of AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini. The other player who has just returned to Juve from Real Madrid FC is Fabio Cannavaro. Both Madrid and AC Milan have won more Champions League titles than many other teams.

Maldini “Il Capitano”, who has won 5 Champions, 7 Scudetto, etc. has decided to retire after more than 20 years playing in San Siro. Of course, he was the captain, and an outspoken captain on issues that he believed were  fair or good for the club. So when he retired, the Milan tiffossi, known by their neofascist ideology, decided to “destroy” his last day as a player. I know that there are many out there who reject the fascists, and the racists and love to see the values of friendship and solidarity thrive, not hate. Check the link:

By the way in Chamartín, Fabio Cannavaro, who has only played 3 years in Real Madrid  decided to return to  Turin. However our Fabio, who is well-known by his sympathy with right-wing parties, was acclaimed by Real Madrid’s fans and mainly by the hooligans, Ultra Sur. Ultra Sur always have showed and flown fascist flags at Black /non-white players, and have answered every  Cannavaro tackle with their right arm to the sky  and calling him Duce, the name associated with Benito Mussolini as Caudillo with Franco or Führer with Hitler.

These two Calcio stories, as Enric Gonzalez says, show us how far a game like football has come for good or bad things. Of course for those that whistled at Paolo are those who yearn for yester year… the thirties, but they are  just a minority. It however does  demonstrate to us the impunity that these groups enjoy. They receive good media coverage as well.  I know is not easy to eradicate these groups from a stadium, but a reflection is needed in order to think if these groups can cast a shadow over part of the history of a team, a society or even a game. The presidents and owners of the team should focus on young people and not on these groups who have many facilities for whatever they want. I love football because of its universal values and, as far as I know, these values not include fascism for the simple reason fascism excludes the majority of us.

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