The effect that footballers from this Latin-American country have had in Britain is undeniable, and has become part of a story of friendship and rivalry that is fascinating but little known. Argentine writer Klaus Gallo will talk about his book as part of a seminar that will take place in London on 24 October.
Juanjo Andrés Cuervo
Football was originally invented by the English, and currently ranks as the most popular sport in Argentina.
The passion for this sport has continued to grow, and now there is even a religion in Argentina called Church of Maradona, in honour of Diego Armando Maradona, a player considered by many to be the best of all time.
In a nation where football has a huge social importance, it is no surprise that a huge TV audience tuned in last Tuesday to watch La Albiceleste, the Argentine national team, face Ecuador. If Argentina didn’t win in Quito, it would be the first time the team didn’t take part in the largest international football competition, the World Cup, since 1970.
To the relief of Argentine fans, Messi scored three goals to win the match and qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
Though the team made it to three finals between 2014 and 2016, the Argentine fans are so demanding that they will only be placated when a title is won.
After 24 years without a win, they are placing their hopes on Messi to take the glory in 2018.
Of course, there’s a history behind this passion for winning. In 1893, Scotsman Alexander Watson Hutton founded the Argentine Football Association, and is considered to be the initiator of the sport in Argentina.
Aside from this influence in the Latin-American country, the first Argentine footballers arrived in England in 1978.
What is certain is that football has been influencing sports in both countries, as well as international affairs, since the end of the 19th century.
For this reason, the seminar Football Diplomacy has been organised by the Argentine Embassy, which will take place at the embassy’s Official Residence.
The book “Las invasiones argentinas” (Argentine Invasions) will be presented by Klaus Gallo, Argentine author and professor of Modern History at Oxford University. The presentation will be accompanied by talks from footballers, legends, journalists and professors, who will expand on more than a century of Anglo-Argentine rivalry and sportsmanship.
In fact, they have fought out some historic duels in World Cup games. Some of the most notable moments are the two legendary goals by Maradona, the Argentine team’s victory on penalties despite a spectacular goal by Michael Owen, and David Beckham’s redemption with his goal against Argentina.
Date and time: 24 October at 6 pm, Address: 49 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8QZ. More information here.
(Translated by Lucy Daghorn) – In order, photos: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay)