Friday, June 25, 2010

Soccer world cup and survival… and a quarter of a billon dollars spent by the Argentine government to keep the mass entertained.

“Do you know how Germany is doing?” asked the driver as soon as I got into the car.
“Yes, they just scored a goal, not playing very well really” I said.
The car driver pulled out a piece of paper and took note of the result. The remis driver (informal taxi) would sure check the results when at home and see who would most probably be our next soccer adversary in the 2010 World Cup tournament.

Soccer is a big thing in Argentina. Its always been that way. Specially during the world cup, kids don’t even go to school that day if the match takes place during school hours, and even at jobs only the most tyrannical employers will forbid workers from watching the game or at least keep track of it on internet or radio.
You see very few cars on the streets, few people walking around. Even if you’re the strangest Argentine person in the planet, you’d be wise to stay at home during the matches when Argentina plays: There’s so few people and so little police presence (or none) that more professional criminals that resist their passion for soccer will take advantage of the opportunity and commit robberies and other crimes.
I can’t help thinking why it is this way, why is soccer (or futbol as we call it here, slang for football) so important for people.

I guess it has something to do with poverty and the social situation here. Its always been a big thing, even during the good times, but when a person is poor, his life quality went to hell, its easy to see why soccer is so important. For some people, their team winning a tournament is the only happy event in a very long time. This is something that repeats itself in most Latin American countries.
Because of this, soccer is a matter of state. In a country where the population’s discomfort is so great, its politically important that the team goes well.

If Argentina wins matches, people are happy and less likely to protest or notice (or care) that much about inflation or crime, concentrating on celebrating the team’s victories instead. Its common for the senate and president to approve very unpopular measures or laws precisely during the time when Argentina is playing an important match. People are concentrated on something else and before people and the media take notice its already a done deal. “Bread and Circus” as the Romans used to say. In some cases, circus alone is enough. Circus and cheap drugs.

The drugs are already cheap and abundant (and of awful quality of course, junk like Paco that kills people quicker than any other drug) About the circus part, the Kirchner government took measures as well: In a country of such poverty as Argentina, they’ve used 250 million dollars were spent to ensure the previously pay per view matches to be free for everyone. The program was called “Football para Todos” (Football for everyone) 250 million dollars, the tax payers money, many of them very poor, that money is spent on making pay per view free. So maybe you have a hard time putting food on the table, maybe you are one of the millions of unemployed, but you can rest assured your tax money is being spent in important things, such as ensuring free soccer TV for the fans out there. Maybe you sort of prefer lower taxes, specially when it comes to making food cheaper. Heck, maybe you don’t give a damn about soccer. Thank God you have the Argentine government to spend your money wisely for you instead of throwing it away on silly stuff like milk or medicine for your kids.



Anonymous said...

Sports and religion, the opiate of the masses.

Patrick said...

Yeah I'm one of those people who doesn't bother with sports, I went to Virginia Tech and only attended one (American) football game! Same story here in 'tina. Another common facet is that during these games there is a sense of calm that I rarely experience, whether it's a college saturday or a weekday at the office.

Funny how "Futbol para Todos" sounds so egalitarian when really it's just stuffing the pockets of broadcasting companies.

Don Williams said...

1) Hey, Ferfal.

Recalling your post from a week or so ago re how you like seeing hairy naked men in public :) --

what do you think of
the pledge by Argentina's soccer coach Diego Maradona that he will run naked through Buenos Aires if Argentina wins the World Cup?


Maldek said...

Hi FerFal!

Socialism at its best.

For me even more sad than the fact of "good use of taxpayer money" is: Would argentina (or any latin american country) make a vote like

a) Free milk for kids 5-10 in shool
b) Free worldcup soccer matches

my guesstimate is a) 20% b) 80% of voters...so basicly Miss K. is doing her job - give the majority what they want.

Anonymous said...

Things never change. Yes, it is the same "bread and circuses" strategy from over 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the masses have not wised up. They never will. That's why socialism takes over a country, because not enough people are wise enough and courageous enough to speak out about this situation.

Anonymous said...

"That's why socialism takes over a country, because not enough people are wise enough and courageous enough to speak out about this situation."

More like, no one listens.

Shout it from the rooftops, no one listens, it threatens their comfort zones.


Anonymous said...

Re:Anonymous "Sports and religion, the opiate of the masses."

Not quite. Every tyranny tries to discourage religion because belief in a higher authority than the government is anathema to them. Take a look at all of the 20th Century tyrants; they all repressed religion.

The real opiates of the masses are sports and sex. These two keep people looking inward; religion keeps people looking up. Guess who are the easiest people to control...?

Anonymous said...

"Guess who are the easiest people to control...?"

I don't know, who are the easiest people to control? Religious/mind-control cults?

Or hordes of morons wearing their sports jerseys rabidly supporting their favorite sports (i.e. money-making) franchise and parking their butts on the couch to witness every event (or spending more and going to see the events live) even though their favorite "teams" switch players so often the lineups are rarely the same from one year to the next.

Both religion and sports move masses of people to act and behave certain ways. They're cults to varying degrees.

With sex at least people do what they want, or try to do what they want, but political and religious cults also try to control those behaviors as well.

DonB said...

Off topic: You talk about "bug out" supplies from time to time. Have you mentioned self-adhesive bandages? I just had a physician introduce me to these. She told me to buy them at the local farm store (because they are cheaper but exactly the same), and to ask for Vetrap or similar.

Here's a link to the stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Three-M-3-M-Vetrap-Yard-Roll/dp/B000F9ZVN2

There are also plenty of other brands, like this: http://www.amazon.com/Sureflex-Sureflexx-4-Purple/dp/B000CSYDQM

Unknown said...

There is no better opiate for the masses than opium (or whatever drug is popular). However, sports is a close second if it is not first.

Anonymous said...

"I guess it has something to do with poverty and the social situation here. Its always been a big thing, even during the good times, but when a person is poor, his life quality went to hell, its easy to see why soccer is so important." No, its the same here in Holland (the Netherlands) Shops will close during the game, schools will stop and watch the game. People go home early from work. Sinds Holland is not a poor country im sure it has nothing to do with poverty.