Monday, March 20, 2023
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A team of passion and flair


I remember an old aphorism of Kafka: “The leopard enters the temple and changes the ceremony. This happens over and over again, until they become part of the ceremony. It seems to me that something similar was happening with VAR. Or to put it another way: I think the World Cup in Qatar clearly saw the meaning that FIFA wants to give to football, which means, through technology and other methods, a radical change in its essence. The quest to make soccer what it is not: something closer to North American sports and its potential for media spectacle, made of adrenaline rather than technology. As we all know, football was created in England, but later it became successful not only in the United States, but also in continental Europe and Latin America. It is that the idea of ​​sports in the United States opposes football in everything. For example, in tennis (a sport popularized in the USA, also in English) and basketball: there is no tie. Somebody always has to win and somebody has to lose. It will be said that the specialty of the game is that, but in football it does not happen with that cruelty. The flip side: The scores are always big. In tennis, 3 to 2 is called 40-30. That’s why? And why are the points 2 (or even 3) in basketball? The North American game is imbued with the idea that there is a winner in every game and that scoring is very high. So everything becomes hyper-media, practical and above all, super fabulous. But football is (for now) a game that can go zero to zero, and the most common outcomes are 1 to 0, 1 to 1 or 2 to 1. A game in which we value throwing a pipe in the middle of the field is not useless at all. Against all this comes FIFA and the larger media (enough to watch the commercials for matches on ESPN, the adrenaline-pumping music, the extremely high-speed images, the physical contact and the various piracy, to know that this is not football. ).

For a while I didn’t understand the function of VAR. The delay in knowing whether it was a goal or not, ended by shouting out a goal, conspired against everything spectacular. But Qatar made it clear to me. The VAR, as Kafka phrases it, became a (central) part of the ceremony. It’s a sprawling narrative system, full of mystery and unexpected twists. Minutes that seem dead and boring are actually comprised of a system of maximum alertness of extreme tension that supports the idea of ​​sport as something extraordinary, extraordinary, fantastic, where everything can change in a flash. . , Like basketball, it is demanded that there is no dead time in football. In Qatar, FIFA showed it wanted to move football towards total spectacle. But no longer total football, as the Netherlands’ strategy was called in 74, but FIFA, with VAR (and everything that Qatar is leaving us with), touched the very law of football, its essence, without making it total Drawbacks to turn into farce. The literary reference is to be found in Orwell’s 1984.

Meanwhile, Argentina won in a very strange match: with the result set, they committed a silly foul at the field door with a minute remaining, and they scored a goal from a set play (Brazil was rare: winning 1–0), he scored a counter-attack in the last minute of extra time) and ended up going into an extra time that he deserved to win. Argentina, with its borders – which are not few – became, for a while, a team of passions, temperaments, eggs. How did Messi reach there? I don’t know. But just as a Guevara lynch became the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century, why wouldn’t Messi evoke the most passionate sympathies?

Then, to soccer: the win was well deserved, with those distractions against Saudi Arabia—that could knock him out of the World Cup in a second. With lots of difference between starter and substitute (this is a problem): Tagliafico is not Acuna, Pezzella is not Romero and Lautaro is not Martínez Álvarez. Now Argentina is a semi-finalist with a very serious and determined 5-3-2: for a billard player like me, guaranteed success.

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