Diego Armando Maradona won the Falklands War in 1986. Unarmed, using only his left-handers (foot and hand).
It is not known that after those quarter-finals of the World Cup, England returned the Falklands to Argentina. But there was a synthesis of national unity, Argentine history expressed in 90 minutes.
By the way: how lucky we still didn’t have an assistant video referee (VAR) in 1986. Let’s add: that hand alone has made Diego better than Lionel Messi, no matter what.
However, shortly thereafter, there was our crooked angel again, Neapolitan, avenging Southern Italy for all the humiliation inflicted by the North.
Two Italian championships, an Italian Cup, a UEFA Cup, and the whole world at the feet of “Diez” and that legendary Napoli team. Never again could the South be humiliated. But it is not known that, since that team, the dependence of the South of Italy has diminished.
But know, patient reader (a) that this article is not about Maradona (not least because it would be impossible to deal with such a grand theme).
I only resorted to two moments in his trajectory to show that football and politics are not separate.
As everything is politics, it would not make sense to expect football to assume some “neutrality” in relation to disputes and conflicts that affect us. Which only makes certain players who insist on saying they have nothing to do with it a little ridiculous, they just want to play football.
On second thought, in many cases, it’s better that they only play football.
Football cannot return the Falklands to Argentina, nor end the exploitation of southern Italy. It cannot end global inequalities, hunger and poverty. But it is fundamental as a catalyst, symbol, aggregator.
Just think of the Brazilian identity, historically associated (in and outside the country) with samba, Carnival, the “cordial man”, Macunaíma, the Brazilian national team and little more than that.
With that, we finally come to the topic: the Brazilian team. There’s nothing more logical than introducing this subject talking about Maradona, isn’t it?
Politics and national symbols in Brazil
More specifically, I want to talk about the team’s shirt.
At the height of the military dictatorship’s repression, it was feared that a victory in the 1970 World Cup would reinforce the regime.
However, the unease among opponents of the dictatorship dissipated as soon as Rivellino scored the first goal against Czechoslovakia in their debut at that World Cup. From there, the yellow shirt was once again the people’s patrimony, until the achievement of the third championship.
It is evident that the Brazilian dictatorship effectively tried to take advantage of the conquest. And how could it be different?
In 1984, in the Diretas Já movement, which helped to defeat the regime, “everyone was on the street in a yellow blouse”, celebrating, in a united front, in the hope of a democratic and fairer country.
There was our yellow shirt and our flag as broad and inclusive symbols.
However, in recent years, demonstrations crossed by speeches of hate and violence have been appropriating the yellow shirt.
Thousands take to the streets in green and yellow, wearing national team shirts, holding the national flag and military symbols. They hope to save Brazil from corruption, from communism, from the dissolution of customs. In 2015 and 2016, they demanded the overthrow of a legitimate, newly elected government.
Today they are fewer in number, many are certainly ashamed of having participated in past protests.
They left the green-yellow demonstrations to the most radicals, to the thousands demanding military intervention, the closing of the Federal Supreme Court and the National Congress, the arrest of leftists, the persecution of indoctrinator professors, the return of the monarchy and who knows what? but what.
They take to the streets summoned by an authoritarian government, led by a president whose hands are smeared with blood.
A government that seeks daily to associate itself with national symbols, with the clear intention of consolidating the idea that the true patriots and that the true nation are constituted by those who support them. The opposition must be excluded, as it is not Brazilian.
The left, the democrats in general, instead of trying to regain the kidnapped national symbols, resent it and act as if nationalism and national identity were something in a museum. Or they are accumulating resentment towards the Brazilian team and its players (notably Neymar).
It is common not to speak about the Brazilian team’s shirt anymore, but about a “CBF shirt”. But the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) was never an example of management, transparency, honesty. And that was never a reason for us to refuse the Brazilian team, which is the people’s heritage.
Until recently we saw basically “red” opposition demonstrations. More recently, there is an incipient effort to start taking back the national team’s shirt and the Brazilian flag from its kidnapping by the far right.
But the malaise continues, and it will take time to reverse it. I look out the window right now and see a Brazilian flag on a balcony. I can assure you that this is a pocketnarista. How to overcome this?
Imagine a demonstration in Argentina in which the crowd is not dressed in “albiceleste”, chanting slogans directly taken from the “canchas de fútbol”. Imagine the Argentine left, all in red, marching in Plaza de Mayo. You will have to imagine a lot, it is almost inconceivable.
Let us remember then that football and politics are inseparable, as everything in life is inseparable from politics, whether you like it or not.
The Brazilian team’s shirt is not a symbol of fascism and reactionaryism. It is a symbol of beauty. In all world.
Eduardo Galeano said that Brazilian football is “open to fantasy, it prefers pleasure to results. From Friedenreich onwards, Brazilian football that is truly Brazilian does not have straight angles, just as Rio de Janeiro’s mountains and buildings do by Oscar Niemeyer”.
Eric Hobsbawm wondered who, having seen the Brazilian national team in its glory days, would deny football the status of an art.
There is nothing better than associating this symbol with the Brazilian people, democracy and social justice.