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'This is the bible of Pelé'
Cannes, France, 23 May 2005 | Having fared poorly in its native Brazil, the documentary Pelé eterno (2004) made its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival (Tom Dart, "Pelé's 'Bible': The Sex, Strikes and Videotape," The Times [U.K.]). While the critical reception remains
Update: Pelé eterno will have its U.S. debut at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on 9 July, as part of the Premiere Brazil! exhibition (Richard Deitsch, "Long Live the King," SI.com, 8 July). Green Street Hooligans (titled Green Street in the U.K.) had a limited opening on 9 September, with more U.S. cities being added through the fall (Sarah Hughes, "It's Kicking Off," The Observer [U.K.], 28 August). Director Lexi Alexander was a teenage member of the Mannheim City Boys, for which she is unapologetic. "In my film I portrayed all these boys as the guys I grew up with," she tells the New York Times. " I'd feel safer around these people than around anyone in Hollywood." Jim White of the Daily Telegraph derides the FIFA-backed film Goal! (opening 30 September) for being "wholly driven by commerce," primarily adidas. "The project, in short, redefines the term cynical: football not for its own sake but because it happens to tick a host of commercially dictated boxes" ("New Football Movie Is Like an Extended Ad for Adidas," 10 September).DETENTIONS
Yet another monkey slur
Media in Argentina, meanwhile, spoke of Desábato's "crucifixion" and hinted at strains of political correctness within Brazilian culture. "[Argentina] has a minuscule black population," Tobar wrote for the L.A. Times, "and racial attitudes here often seem a throwback to an earlier time. When Argentina played Nigeria in the 1996 Olympic gold-medal match in Atlanta, a front-page headline in the Buenos Aires sports tabloid Olé declared 'The Monkeys Are Coming.' " Grafite in late April hinted at dropping the charges, but no further word has come from São Paulo.
Feelings on Merseyside about the Sun have not calmed, even after 15 years.
Rooney's unique place within the English imagination perhaps most clearly emerged during the summer, following Euro 2004 and as all things Wayne became public commodities. In selling his "world exclusive" story to the Rupert Murdoch–owned Sun tabloid for some £250,000, Rooney set off a swirl of events that recalled the darkness of Hillsborough 15 years earlier. As a Merseysider, although only 3 years old when the tragedy occurred, Rooney and certainly his advisers should have known better than to deal with the Sun, infamous for its egregiously careless journalism following the 1989 disaster—as if its misogynistic style of reportage and inflammatory headlines would not be enough to scare anyone away. But the Sun headlines post-Hillsborough, within days of the 96 deaths—"Some fans picked pockets of victims"; "Some fans urinated on the brave cops"; "Some fans beat up PCs giving the kiss of life"—assured an almost total loss of its Liverpool circulation (Owen Gibson, "What the Sun Said 15 Years Ago," The Guardian, 7 July). Incredibly, 15 years on, the Sun still has not regained the 200,000 local readers it reportedly lost that week. It sells 3.3 million copies nationwide but only 12,000 in Liverpool (Ian Burrell, "An Own Goal? Rooney Caught in Crossfire between 'The Sun' and an Unforgiving City," The Independent [U.K.], 8 July).
More substantively, some feel that the Sun in its carelessness helped perpetuate a negative stereotype of Liverpool. Jon Brown, deputy editor of the Liverpool Echo, says:
The Sun's coverage of Hillsborough still has ramifications today in the vilification of Scousers, of an entire culture and community. It blackened the reputation of the city and it has still not recovered. If you go anywhere in the world Liverpool has a great reputation. If you go anywhere in England, it's different. (David Smith, "The City That Eclipsed the Sun," The Observer [U.K.], 11 July)
After its Rooney "exposé," the Sun made matters worse by printing a front-page "apology" that, while saying "we gladly say sorry again . . . fully, openly, honestly and without reservation," also managed to plug itself in the same article: "For goodness sake, give the lad [Rooney] a chance. . . . [N]early all Liverpool-born celebrities regularly talk to Britain's favourite daily newspaper" ("Don't Blame Rooney," 13 July; article only available through paid archive). The Sun also alleged that its rivals—the Trinity Mirror–owned Liverpool Echo and Post (Trinity Mirror owns the Sun's tabloid rival, the Daily Mirror)—were the ones exploiting Rooney, to which the Echo responded:
Today's Sun article is not a real apology. It is a shameless and cynical attempt to win readers. And most people on Merseyside will realise that. The Sun has missed the point and lost the plot. The majority of the people of Merseyside have nothing personal against
Wayne Rooney. They feel he has been badly advised. . . . Today's Sun exaggerates, over-reacts and depicts a lurid picture of hate which is about as far from the truth as its London offices are from Goodison Park. ("The Sun Has Lost the Plot [Again]," 7 July)
The cows mark a Manchester renaissance. (Slate.com)
So Rooney now leaves Merseyside, perhaps with some relief. He moves to the Northeast and to a city seeking to reinvent itself, as revealed in June Thomas's recent weeklong Slate diary ("Manchester, So Much to Answer For," 30 August; see also subsequent entries). Will Rooney become part of the "bourgeoisification of the working class" of which George Orwell wrote in the 1930s in The Road to Wigan Pier (see Thomas's day 2)? With the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry as evidence, perhaps the once-gritty Lancashire city has room for another urban hulk looking to retool.
And what of Robinho and Adu? Robson do Sousa—Robinho's given name—is also 18 and plays for Pelé's old club Santos; his skills have helped lead Santos back into the limelight of South American football. The possible burden seems clear to Santos management, who have barred Robinho from wearing Pelé's No. 10 jersey. "[T]he simple sight of a young black boy of such promise wearing that number would trigger a collective recollection in Brazil too profound for anyone to bear," writes Guy Lawson in his recent Observer profile ("The Boy Wonder," 5 September). Lawson continues:
The likeness between the two was first suggested by Pelé himself. He had been estranged from his old team for years, feuding with the directors over the allegations of fraud and corruption that have long blighted Brazilian football. But the very first day he returned to Santos to work with the junior players, as if drawn by a karmic force, he spotted Robinho. The boy was only 13, his shirt dangling from the narrow, underfed shoulders, but Pelé instantly saw himself in the boy. Not in size, strength or style of play. As a child Pelé was bigger, stronger, direct, the product of an age before the poverty and hunger of Brazil today; Robinho was small, skinny, sly. Pelé meant in the mastery of ela [the ball], in familiarity and control of her; in his ways with her.
The encounter as depicted may be apocryphal; indeed, it smacks of hagiography. But the sense of precedent in Brazil seems strong, a nation able to field a roster of "next Pelés" (featuring Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Diego . . .). Alex Bellos even dissects the phrase in his own Robinho profile. The reality has arrived that it is not enough for Robinho to remain a malabarista—a magician, trickster, illusionist—and master of the pedalada (pedaling-like feint). Agent Wagner Ribeiro has advised his client to shun the pedalada, realizing that "every Brazilian hopes to go to Europe. I am very sad about this." Robinho, according to Lawson, seeks to become a craque, a "player of substance": "The craque doesn't pass to a man. He passes to ponto futuro: a point in the future."
Another drama in self-creation involves Adu, 15, who suffers somewhat in his quest from the naïveté of the U.S. press and public. The age dilemma for Adu is dual-edged. After the questions as to whether the Ghanaian-born Adu were truly 15—an insinuation, whether intended or not, of assumed Third World incompetence—now he must play a joyful game with serious men (see Steven Goff's extended profile, "The Emergence of a Prodigy," Washington Post, 31 August). He is both young and, in a sense, old: we see above, with Rooney and Robinho, how, in the minds of dreamers and nostalgists, 18 represents the height of athletic potential. But, for realists, 17 or 18, too, might be the age of emergence: when a mark must be made, the monster transfer arranged. Already at Highbury, the Arsenal supporters sing of midfield wizard Francesc Fábregas ("Fábregas the Fabulous: A Star on the Rise," FIFA.com, 7 September):
He's only seventeen
And he's better than Roy Keane.
Hurry up, Freddy. Time is wasting.
Haitians love the Brazilian team, as they demonstrate following a victory in the 2002 World Cup finals. (AP)
As for Copa América, and some of the sides involved, hosts Peru advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Argentina. Peru last hosted the competition in 1957, and the 2004 edition marked something of a turning point following some 20 years of armed resistance led by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru guerrillas. (See also the website of Peru's Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación and of the related photo exhibition, "Yuyanapaq: Para recordar.") This year's event was spiced by a one-day nationwide strike called midway through the event by the Confederación General de Trabajadores del Peru (CGTP), the country's largest labor organization. Protesting the free-market policies of the continent's least-popular leader, President Alejandro Toledo, the action resulted in 76 arrests, although the Associated Press characterized the strike's impact as minimal (Monte Hayes, "Peruvians Largely Ignore Call for Strike," 14 July). The government mobilized 93,000 police to make its views clear; former president and opposition Aprista Party leader Alan Garcia, however, supported the strike. More disruptive was the shutdown of Aero Continente, one of Peru's two major air carriers, when its insurance contract was not renewed. At least one journalist—the BBC's Tim Vickery—had to change his travel plans.Football spectacles in Latin America always seem to raise the specter of the past,
ReVista magazine spotlights Chile and the Chilean national stadium in its spring issue.
The National Stadium . . . is clearly a cultural icon of the nation. As a site of traumatic memory, the Stadium thus poses unique opportunities as well as challenges. With its 80,000-seat capacity, the Stadium is the site of the most important soccer matches in the country (and a World Cup site in 1962), immensely popular musical concerts, and other athletic and cultural events. It is extremely "inhabited." Tens of thousands constantly come and go through the stadium's gates. The fate of the Stadium as monument does not risk the physical, social and cultural relegation common to many conventional historic monuments.
Nor will the monument assume the quality of some static, impenetrable granite object commemorating fallen heroes. Too often, writes Chilean cultural scholar and critic Nelly Richard, a monument represents "the nostalgic contemplation of the heroic; the reification of the past in a commemorative block that petrifies the memorial as inert material." In the stadium, citizens will travel in and through the monument, making relegation, distance, and inertia far more difficult. Locating the accounts of victims and their families within the monument necessarily engages the representations of the past atrocities with the vibrant, emotional lived experiences of the present.
Mexico's ignominy occurred on 2 October 1968 when, 10 days before the start of the Olympic Games, government forces opened fire on student protesters in the La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, killing several hundred (see Tim Weiner, "When the Olympic Games Turned Political," New York Times, 24 July). Luis Echeverría, the interior minister in 1968 and later Mexico's president, was indicted on 23 July for his alleged role in authorizing additional murders of demonstrators in 1971. In between, of course, Mexico hosted the World Cup finals. But, according to Weiner's article in the Times, some historians date the end of Mexico's one-party rule to the events of 1968. The change culminated in 2000 with the election of current president Vincente Fox, who has his own problems.Colombia, which finished fourth in Copa América, nearly had to surrender the tournament in
Yet another photo of besparkled South American terraces, this time from Once Caldas. (www.oncecaldas.com.co)
Finally, ties between the United States—which turned down a Copa América place to concentrate on CONCACAF World Cup qualifying—and its Latin neighbors have been in focus. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl concluded the magazine's four-part series on globalization in sports by contrasting the efforts of the National Football League and Major League Soccer to win over non-American fans ("Football vs. Fútbol," 5 July). MLS, of course, has accepted Jose Vergara's proposal for Chivas USA, to be based outside Los Angeles. Wahl writes:
The plan is rich in irony: MLS will be creating its own regional type of globalization by harnessing the power of globalism's supposed bugbear, fervent nationalism. In the most multinational of sports, Chivas's appeal is simple: It has never signed a non-Mexican player in its 97-year history. "We want to spread the passion of being all [Mexican] nationals," Vergara says, "and, of course, of always giving everything you have. That's how Mexicans play—and how Chivas USA is going to play."
Vergara certainly seems forward-thinking, attracted in the near-term by the 9.5 million people in Los Angeles County, of whom 45 percent are Latinos. Vergara also has been cited for uplifting women in the Mexican workplace, having created business and self-empowerment training centers solely for women. "In Latin American countries we have wasted women in the workforce because of our macho education," Vergara tells Wahl ("Have Ambition, Will Travel," SI.com, 30 June). Certainly Chivas will encounter cultural differences in its new venture. An interesting distinction likely will come in the area of branding. As the Financial Times noted recently (John Authers, "Why Mexicans Mix Cement with Football," 8 July), Chivas currently wears the logo of Cemento Tolteca. Other Mexican clubs, too, are endorsed by cement makers, well aware that "in Mexico, and in much of the rest of the developing world, people buy cement one bag at a time, usually from small hardware stores. That means it must be sold and marketed as a consumer product, not in bulk from business to business, as it is in developed economies." Women sometimes decide what cement to buy, showing again that preconceived notions often mislead.
After it, I probably had a couple of my best years at Wolves but I never played for Northern Ireland again. I finished up with 43 appearances, seven short of my second gold watch. After 15 years I had no complaints but you lot down south owe me a watch.
He was as fast as a greyhound, as agile as a cat, and seemed not to be made of flesh and bones at all, but entirely of rubber. He was tireless in pursuit of the ball, fearless, and constantly on the move. He never conceded defeat. He shot from any angle and any position, and compensated for his small height with exceptionally supple, unbelievable contortions, and impossible acrobatics.
The website of the Universidade de São Paulo, Escola de Educação Física e Esporte, in a fascinating section on the biomechanics of the bicycle kick (including photographs, videos and illustrations of scientific principles), credits Spain's Ramon Unzaga with having invented the kick in 1914. Unzaga emigrated to Chile, where the move became known as a chilena. Da Silva perfected the kick in the 1930s in stints with Bonsuccesso of Rio de Janeiro, Uruguay's Peñarol, Botafogo and Flamengo. (The USP site includes a video of da Silva himself, playing in 1942 for São Paulo. The link opens your computer's default media player.)
Leônidas' fame helped further new theories of race that for the first time saw Brazilians be proud of their racial mixture. Gilberto Freyre, the most influential academic of his day, used the footballer—who was black—as a positive symbol of Brazil's culture of miscegenation. Not only did football show Brazil at its best, but Leônidas' style of play embodied Brazilian characteristics of musicality, happiness, astuteness and guile. This helped make football the most powerful symbol of national identity, an idea which continued and strengthened as Brazilian football eventually achieved greatness.
In Brazil, football is one of the most prominent stages on which the battle to make the country a fairer place is being fought. The sport is run by a network of unaccountable, largely corrupt figures known as carolas, or "top hats," who have become obscenely wealthy while the domestic football scene is broke and demoralised. The public plundering of football is a constant and very visible reminder of the country's failings.
In May, Lula ratified the Law of Moralisation in Sport and a "fans statute," requiring the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) to hold a national competition in which "teams know before it begins how many games they will play and who their opponents will be." Surprisingly, Brazil has only had a national league since 1971, one year after winning its third World Cup.