In an insulting decision, as stupid as it is mindless, the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) has decided that the second match will no longer be played in the USA, but in…Spain! The same Spain from which millions of people became independent, who, until then, were subjects or slaves to the Spanish Crown.
Pablo Sapag M.
“Latin America is a town in the south of the United States”, is a lyric from one of the songs of the legendary rock group, Los Prisioneros, as Chilean as they are genuinely Latin American.
This sentence, full of both self-criticism and pride, nevertheless falls short when describing the nonsense that is about to be inflicted.
This time, because of the controversial and often postponed final of the Libertadores de America Cup in Buenos Aires, between the Argentinian teams of River Plate and Boca Juniors.
In an insulting decision, as stupid as it is mindless, the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) has decided that the second match will no longer be played in the USA, but in…Spain! The same Spain from which Bolívar, San Martín, O´Higgins, Miranda, Sucre, Santa Cruz, Manuel Rodríguez, the Carrera brothers and millions of people became independent, who, until then, were subjects or slaves to the Spanish Crown.
The Spain that now comes to the rescue of the disastrous Latin America that is incapable, through corruption and violence, of organising a simple football match. This is what Spanish radio, television and newspapers have been spitting out 24 hours a day, since they found out that the highest leader of the Conmebol, Paraguayan Alejandro Domínguez, the President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, and Florentino Pérez of Real Madrid had agreed on such a huge aberration.
The match of a Cup born to reinforce Latin American identity following the Wars of Independence that were not civil, as the Spanish foolishly try to claim, simply cannot be played in a country whose students are never taught why and who achieved South American Independence.
If they knew, not even Sánchez would have dared to politically use a topic as sensitive as this one.
It is not forgotten, for his own greater glory and that of the Kingdom of Spain, of course. The empire always strikes back. Nothing can dispute that. Responsibility falls to Conmebol, demonstrating a historical and symbolic ignorance that is difficult to overcome.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Santander Bank understood well that man cannot live by bread alone and that football is more than just football. For years the bank declined to be a sponsor of the Libertadores de America Cup out of respect and to not be considered as a new conqueror.
They only did so once they had been accepted in Latin America as a global bank and not just a Spanish one. Thus avoiding the Latin American boycott that other Spanish businesses experienced who, at the same time as buying Latin American businesses were in Spain shamelessly announcing the “reconquest of America” and other niceties to delight those who, deep down, had never accepted being expelled from America.
To top it all off, the final will be played in the stadium of a club called Real “Royal” Madrid! Doubly insulting for some of the “American Liberators” who did not just throw out the Spanish but also brought a political and social revolution of great magnitude.
Out with the monarchy; goodbye slavery; elimination of racial categories imposed by the Crown; introduction of the separation of Church and State and many other things that forged the identity of the Latin American states and that, in Spain, never arrived or took decades to only half-emerge.
None of this is known in Spain. Nobody there has heard talk of the Battle of Ayacucho, the Letters of Bolívar or Maipú’s embrace.
In Madrid, without going very far, the statues of the American Liberators financed by the countries of which they are the founding fathers, are hidden among the foliage of the Parque del Oeste park, and cannot be seen from the street.
The same happened to Don Andrés Bello’s statue, that illustrious Venezuelan-Chilean, both patriot and defender of the unity of the Castilian language, who demonstrated that both things are not incompatible.
His statue is hidden in Dehesa de la Villa in Madrid. In the vilified United States, the American Liberators statues occupy emblematic locations. In New York, at the entrance to Central Park, on the 59 between 5th and 6th Avenues. Openly and publicly visible to all.
Conmebol could have chosen Haiti, the heralding country of Latin American Independence, to which Bolívar dedicated one of his most beautiful letters. Or another city in Argentina, that swings between a San Martinian Latin Americanism and the ghost of its Europeanness that it has never been able to overcome.
The Libertadores Cup fiasco is just a symptom of this. A Cup stained, humiliated and insulted. So much so that, as another song by Los Prisioneros says, “Why don’t you stay there next year!”
(Translated by Donna Davison. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)