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In the direction of soccer: the unfold of South American soccer within the early twentieth century | RetroNews

In this way the French press welcomed the arrival of the new masters of the game, who had profoundly transformed it and redefined it in terms of their qualities. Jacques Goddet, the journalist of car (ancestor of Team), talked for example about a football ” dreamy, poetic, choreographic », while Gabriel Hanot, in Sports Mirrorestimated that heavenly had ” perfected the art of staggering, dodging, switching legs, turning the body, changing the direction of travel “.

One player in particular drew rave reviews, José Leandro Andrade, ” maravilla negra (“The Black Wonder”), who sprinkled his talent in two Olympic tournaments – we especially admired his “scarf trick”, a technical trick never seen before in Europe, which consists of passing the ball over the opponent his direct, then to recover it after. that with quick steps. All these observations were part of a specific cultural context, that of the performance on the Parisian artistic scene of Carlos Gardel’s black ballets and tangos, where the Uruguayan players somehow represented the football version. They contributed to powerfully fueling the South American sporting imagination, which reframed and sanctified them as hallmarks of a fundamental collective otherness.

Three tutelary figures were presented: the Gaucho, whose qualities of courage during the wars of independence were translated on the football fields with dedication, perseverance and endurance; of pipe, the equivalent of the Parisian tit, who had developed his sense of cunning and speed of execution in the vacant lands on the outskirts of the growing big cities – a few decades later, Diego Maradona would constitute the finished expression of this – ; and finally the tango dancer, whose elegance mingled with disturbing footwork.

The specific Uruguayan variation of this shared cultural pattern was articulated around the latter two figures, privileged because they were more urban than rural. Gaucho aligning itself with conservative forces that express the interests of large landowners. In Uruguay, political life was indeed dominated from the beginning of the 20th century.e century with what was called baptism, named after President José Batlle y Ordóñez, a radical reformist movement aimed at creating a modern democracy and a true welfare state – in Europe, it would have been attached to the social democratic movement. Within this political project, sport in general and football in particular was seen as a gauge to measure the implementation of a progressive program that consists in improving the daily life of the working classes.

From this perspective, the Olympic triumphs of 1924 and 1928 were holy bread and provided the material for the patriotic narrative elaborated for the centenary celebrations of independence: the eleven players of the national team became the most perfect embodiment of a new republic devoted to the road of social modernity.

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