Honduras beat Colombia in a friendly in Fort Lauderdale this week. Honduras won 2-1, with goals from David Suazo and Henry Thomas. It was the second victory against South American opposition this year for Los Catrachos. Honduras had beaten Paraguay in February.
The result was noteworthy for me because of the contribution of the young Hendry Thomas. Thomas caught my eye with his two goals in Olympic qualifying round for Honduras' U23 team.
His presence alongside Inter Milan forward, David Suazo, could introduce the Puerto Ricans to the concept of a cricket score.
Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was murdered at the Estadio Chile in 1973, not the Estadio Nacional. Jara's hands were chopped off. The price of copper went down. The Estadio Chile which was renamed in Victor Jara's honour in 2003.
Yo no canto por cantar
ni por tener buena voz
canto porque la guitarra
tiene sentido y razon,
tiene corazon de tierra
y alas de palomita,
es como el agua bendita
santigua glorias y penas,
aqui se encajo mi canto
como dijera Violeta
con olor a primavera.
Que no es guitarra de ricos
ni cosa que se parezca
mi canto es de los andamios
para alcanzar las estrellas,
que el canto tiene sentido
cuando palpita en las venas
del que morira cantando
las verdades verdaderas,
no las lisonjas fugaces
ni las famas extranjeras
sino el canto de una alondra
hasta el fondo de la tierra.
Ahi donde llega todo
y donde todo comienza
canto que ha sido valiente
siempre sera cancion nueva.
The crimes committed in Santiago's Estadio Nacional may have had an a major influence Reverand Wright's 'chicken's coming home to roost' sermon, but back in 1962, the effervescent English football commentator David Coleman was spitting feathers about some other crimes.
The possibility that the USA could end up playing in Santiago reminded me of when that other superpower once had a fixture in Santiago. It was a walk over.
It was a World Cup playoff between UEFA and CONMEBOL. The first leg was in Moscow 26th September, two weeks after the other 9-11. It was a 0-0 draw. For those with short memories, this was when covert US operatives and significant US funds contributed to the overthrow of the democratically elected Chilean President, Salvador Allende. Tens of thousands were tortured and killed, with as many as 40,000 people interned in the bowels of the Chile's Estadio Nacional.
The USSR refused to play the return leg scheduled for November at the scene of these crimes, but then FIFA President, Sir Stanley Rous, was not a working class hero type and ordered the game to take the place with or without the Soviets. (This was before the soon to be late Margaret Thatcher and General Augusto Pinochet were friends.)
Here's the kick off and the opening and decisive goal.
It was a classic cynical move by Alf, one all too often repeated by racists in the years since. Now talk of "chances" has been partially eclipsed by suggestions that it's a big advantage to be black, be it in football or politics. Just ask West Ham United supporter Barack Obama how lucky he is to be black.
Clyde Best's presence in the English first division went some way towards changing mindsets in English football and society. Clyde Best became an inspiration to upcoming black British kids aspiring to be footballers.
The burly forward was born in Bermuda on 24th February 1951 and gained his first cap at
the age of 15 playing for the Bermudian national team. At age 18, Best signed for West Ham United and played his first match against Arsenal
on 25th August 1969. He went on to play 188 League games for West Ham,
scoring 47 goals between 1969 and 1976.
Best played alongside English legends like Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, and although English football was still illuminated by the afterglow of the '66 World Cup success, it was difficult time to be a black professional in England.
Best bore the brunt of racism on the pitch and was an easy target for racist hooligans on the terraces. He recounted this experience with Patrick Barclay in a interview last year, ''Some grounds were worse than others, but you had to put it out of your mind. You also had to be careful not to react to provocation from opponents. You had to think of the people watching, the children. You had to think of your team-mates too. You couldn't be selfish and retaliate because the people provoking you were only trying to get you sent off. I was never sent off. Although I didn't set out to blaze a trail for other black players to follow, it was always at the back of my mind that I was representing the guy driving the train, the guy cleaning the toilets. Even at 18 I felt a responsibility to act in a certain way."
Clyde Best left West Ham in 1976 and continued his career in the Netherlands with Feyenoord and with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United States. He later coached the Bermuda national team for three years from 1997 to 1999.
Clyde Best now works at a half-way house for offenders in Bermuda. He awarded an MBE in January 2006 for his services to football and to his community in Bermuda.
Here's Alf Garnett with his Mrs, Else, his daughter, Rita, and his son in law, Mike, the lazy 'Scouse' git. Till Death Us Do Part ran from 1966 to 1975. Thanks to Wiki for the knowledge that follows here.
The series written by Johnny Speight became an instant hit, presumably because, although a comedy, in the context of its time it did deal with aspects of working class life comparatively realistically. It addressed racial and political issues at a particularly difficult time in British society.
The attitude of those who made the programme was that Alf's views were so clearly unacceptable that they were risible, but some viewers considered the series uncomfortable and disturbing to watch. Some were simply oblivious to the fact that Johnny Speight was satirising racist attitudes.
Ironically, some racists and reactionaries enjoyed watching the show - and missed the point that Alf's opinions were offensive. Ultimately, the fact that actor Warren Mitchell imbued the character of Alf Garnett with an earthy charm despite his repugnant opinions served to humanise Alf and make him a likeable character. According to interviews he gave, the fact that some viewers overlooked Alf's views and regarded him as rough diamond, deeply disappointed Speight.
The show captured a key aspect of Britain in the 1960s - the widening generation gap. Alf (and to a lesser degree his wife) represented the old guard, the traditional attitudes of the older generation. Alf's battles with his left-wing son-in-law were not just ideological but also generational and cultural. His son-in-law and daughter (who was a dutiful supporter of her husband rather than an active protagonist) represented the younger generation. They saw the positive aspects of the new era. Relaxed sexual mores, fashions, music etc. The very same things were anathema to Alf - and indicative of everything that was wrong with the younger generation and the liberal attitudes they embraced.
Alf was the archetypal working-class Conservative (Reagan Democrat in the American context) The two subjects that excited him most were football and politics.
He used language that was not considered acceptable for broadcasting on television in the 1960s. He often referred to racial minorities as "coons" and similar terms.
He frequently referred to his Liverpudlian son-in-law as a "randy or lazy Scouse git and to his wife as a "silly moo" (a substitute for "cow" which was originally vetoed by the BBC's Head of Comedy Frank Muir). He used language that was not considered acceptable for broadcasting on television in the 1960s. Controversially, the show was one of the earliest mainstream programmes to feature the swear word, "bloody".
Another phrase he used was "it stands to reason", usually before making some patently unreasonable or illogical comment. Alf was an admirer of Enoch Powell, a right-wing Conservative politician known for his strong opposition to the immigration of non-white races into the United Kingdom.
Alf was also a fanatical supporter of West Ham United (a football club based in the East End) and was known to make derogatory remarks about "the Jews up at Spurs" (referring to Tottenham Hotspur) a North London club with a sizeable Jewish following. This was a playful touch by Speight knowing that in real life Mitchell was both Jewish and a Spurs supporter.
In interviews, Johnny Speight explained that he had originally based the character of Alf on his father, an East End docker who was staunchly reactionary and held "unenlightened" attitudes towards black people.
Speight made clear that he deeply regretted that his father held such attitudes - beliefs that Speight regarded as reprehensible. Speight saw the show in part as a way of ridiculing such views and dealing with his complex feelings about his father.
A March 5th piece by Heidi Przybyla of Bloomberg that suggested Barack Obama may have an Archie Bunker problem has been bouncing around my inbox and favourite blogs lately. (Much respect to Phillip Martin and Melissa Harris Lacewell for the tip.) The article is laced with numbers from the Ohio exit polls and quotes from characters in so called white, ethnic, blue collar wards who claim to be put off by Obama's blackness and uppityness.
Przybyla reports, for example, that in Ohio's 10th district of Cuyahoga County, a suburban enclave on Cleveland's west side that includes a large population of Polish-Americans, Clinton trounced Obama 61 percent to 37 percent. One wonders what Archie would have concluded about them "dumb Polaks" turning out in droves for the "regular American" candidate? Perhaps he would have been pleased that Ohio’s ‘Palm Beach’ Polaks finally figured out how to vote.
No doubt Archie would have also found some pleasure with the Ohio exit polls that showed the candidate with the regular American name beating “that Mick" O'Bama from Chicago, 62% to 35% among Ohio Catholics. And if old Archie were kicking around today he would have probably drawn parallels with the 1959 election and concluded that Ohio’s Papists had learned a valuable lesson in American civics!
Archie’s inspiration and long lost cousin from London, Alf Garnett, also didn't care for blacks or those "red-faced Micks" as embodied in the form of Liverpudlians or Irish folk, who often born the brunt of his bile.
I would like to wish all the viewers at home a Happy St. Patrick's Day, and take this opportunity to remind them Hillary Rodham Clinton had nowt to do with peace in the North of Ireland.
and Tobago were among seven Caribbean countries that participated in coaching clinics in January under the guidance of Liverpool legend, John Barnes. The clinics were hosted in conjunction with the Caribbean Football Union. (Barnes pictured left with Trinidad and Tobago head coach Wim Rijsbergen.)
Barnes referred to the Caribbean as an untapped market, "You see what happened in Africa 20 to 30 years ago when a lot of the people were slow to recognise the talent. England particularly were slow. This (the Caribbean) is an untapped market. You see Jamaica qualifying for the World Cup in 1998 and then the Soca Warriors qualifying for the last World Cup...Football has changed. It's a business now and once upon a time people were being exploited, particularly in Africa, and of course someone as powerful as Jack Warner will ensure that the players and the associations of this region who may have been exploited once upon a time will now not be exploited and they will benefit from having Jack on board," Barnes added.
There is no risk of players from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico defecting. Puerto Rico has a much different relationship with the United States of America than Cuba. While Cuba places a premium on Independence, Puerto Rico seems to prefer perks, such as 55 plane tickets to the Democratic Party Convention in Denver, Colorado, as reward for their island's pliancy.
Given such arrangements, it may be a surprise for many to learn that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a full member of FIFA. Even those in the know can be forgiven for forgetting. Puerto Rican fixtures have been a rarity. The island's federation even managed to avoid friendlies for most of 2006 and 2007.
This changed with the appointment of Colin Clark, the former Southampton and North of Ireland international. Clark arrived in Puerto Rico in 2007 to manage the USL's Puerto Rico Islanders and created a buzz when he led the team into the league's playoffs, with crowds beginning to rival those normally found at Puerto Rican baseball games. This success led to his appointment as dual coach of the USL franchise outfit and the "national" side.
In Clark's first month in charge Puerto Rico have beaten Bermuda, twice, and held Trinidad and Tobago to a 2-2 draw. The Trinis have some player politic problems of late, but the result suggests Puerto Rico will be competitive against the Dominican Republican in their upcoming World Cup qualifier, and may cause problems for Honduras, should they advance.
The Irishman's success has in part been based on his judicious use of players with Puerto Rican heritage and others with connections to the island, as well those who have given up on Sam's Army and whose US passport entitles them to turn out for Puerto Rico. Clark has instilled hope in the team. "We are just now developing our team," said USA-born forward Chris Megaloudis, who opened the scoring against Trinidad. "It takes time and a lot of hard work but our dream is to play in the World Cup and with the right amount of work I am sure we can do it."
Clarke has also shown a dedication to developing the game at the grassroots, "As an island the objective is to continue to grow and be structured right," said Clark, when interviewed by FIFA. "It is important the national side is in the right shape and the good talent doesn't have to leave the island to play."
I wonder what Alberto Memmitito would have to say about the progress of football on the oldest colony on the planet. Can a World Cup run help Puerto Ricans achieve and enjoy their natural right to true autonomy, freedom and independence?
Cuba's hope of Olympic football gold in Beijing ended in Tampa, Florida last Tuesday night, only hours after Cuba had drawn 1-1 with the USA in the opening round of North and Central American and Caribbean qualifiers.
Freddy Adu opened the scoring for USA with a low shot in the 14th minute, but Cuba proved resilient and responded three minutes before half time when Roberto Linares taped home a cross from Yordany Alvarez. It was Alvarez's last contribution to Cuban football.
Hours later Alvarez was one of five Cuban players to defect. He was joined by team captain, Yeniel Bermúdez, goalkeeper José Manuel Miranda, defenders Erlys García Baró and Loanni Cartayo Prieto, and midfielder Yordany Alvárez. The five were joined on Wednesday by defender Yendry Díaz and midfielder Eder Roldán and assistant coach Dagoberto Lara. The defections left the Cubans with only 11 players, since Linares was serving a suspension for a late red card he received against the Americans. Cuba were beaten by 2-0 Honduras on Thursday and lost to Panama on Saturday in their final game.
The Communist Youth Union newspaper Juventud Rebelde called the defectors “dishonorable.” The defectors talked of "dreams". “This could be our opportunity to make our dreams of becoming a professional soccer player come true,” said Loanni Prieto when interviewed at his grandfather's home in West Palm Beach. Yaniel Bermúdez added that, “In Cuba, we don’t have a future as soccer players,”
If Cuba qualifies for the World Cup, the Cuban players who remained loyal to their team may yet find a future in football. Who would want to be a Cuban defector turning out for Miami F.C. reserves when Cuba kicks off the World Cup against Brazil in Cape Town?
Del poeta peruano Juan Parra del Riego dedicado al crack uruguayo Isabelino Gradín, legendario delantero del Peñarol
Palpitante y jubiloso
como el grito que se lanza de repente a un aviador,
todo así claro y nervioso,
yo te canto, ¡oh jugador maravilloso!
que hoy has puesto el pecho mío como un trémulo tambor.
yo te vi en la tarde olímpica jugar.
Mi alma estaba oscura y torpe de un secreto sollozante,
pero cuando rasgó el pito emocionante
y te vi correr...saltar...
Y fue el ¡hurra! Y la explosión de camisetas,
tras el loco volatín de la pelota,
y las oes y las zetas
del primer fugaz encaje
de la aguja de colores de tu cuerpo en el paisaje,
otro nuevo corazón de proa ardiente,
cada vez menos despacio
se me puso a dar mil vueltas en el pecho de repente.
Y te vi, Gradín
bronce vivo de la múltiple actitud,
del golkeeper cazador,
de ese pájaro violento
que le silba a la pelota por el viento
y se va, regresa y cruza con su eléctrico temblor.
¡Flecha, víbora, campana, banderola!
¡Gradín, bala azul y verde! ¡Gradín, globo que se va!
Billarista de esa súbita y vibrante carambola
que se rompe en las cabezas y se enfila más allá...
Y discóbolo volante,
La pelota hierve en ruido seco y sordo de metralla,
se revuelca una epilepsia de colores
y ya estás frente a la valla
con el pecho...el alma...el pie...
y es el tiro que en la tarde azul estalla
como un cálido balazo que se lleva la pelota hasta la red.
de los clásicos aplausos populares...
¡Gradín, trompo, émbolo, música, bisturí, tirabuzón!
My reference yesterday to the contribution of black Honduran and Uruguayan footballers in the context of professionalism has reminded me of how nasty the black football experience was for Brazilians back in the day. I am thankful to Eduardo Galeano for introducing me to this history.
Brazil was not always in the business of winning football titles, winning only two of the first 12 Copa Americas. Uruguay whose star players were often black had won 6 titles in this period. If Uruguayan black stars of this era such as Isabelino Gradin had been Brazilian, no one would have ever heard of them. Indeed in the 1920s, the Brazilian President Epitacio Pessoa went so far as to issue executive orders to keep black players out of the Brazilian team. (Isabelino Gradin with his family, pictured above, in Montevideo in 1932.)
About the same time as Lancashire clubs were enticing Scots, the best teams in Montevideo were offering big money to black Brazilians to play in the Uruguayan league. The signing of Leonidas da Silva by Penarol and Nacional's capture of Domingos da Guia's signature in the early 1930s did much to provoke the Brazilian authorities into a cost benefit analysis of the racism in their prestigious and white amateur football and cricket clubs and national association.
The surprise success of Ecuador's U18s (against older teams from Conmebol and Concacaf) in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro on the back of an horrendous start to the World Cup qualifying campaign by Ecuador has led to the elevation of U18s coach Sixto Vizuete to the full time position of national coach.
The news was met by the early retirement announcement of Ecuador's top player, Edison Mendez. Apparently Edison thinks Vizuete has Hillary like experience, telling the Ecuadoran FA that they "should think about a coach that you can see on the touchline and feel some respect, a coach with experience."
I think the brother needs some HOPE.
(FIFA, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF need to think about the lessons Pan American Games experience. I will blog on this later.)
Polish coach Henri Kasperczak says he has been approached to take charge of Rwanda. Kasperczak has plenty of non Hillary-like experience in Africa, having led Tunisia to final of the Nations Cup in 1996 and then took Mali to the semi-finals in 2002. Kasperczak also had spells in charge of Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal. The goal must be qualification for the African Nations in Angola in 2010.
I am sure George Orwell could well have imagined a Honduran magician making millions in Wigan, Lancashire. Globalization would not have been a stretch for the man who was prescient about imperialism, fascism and 'Uncle Joe'. Lancashire was at the forefront of professional football when Orwell were a lad. Then it was Scotsmen who were offered mucho brass to forsake the mines and their bonny lasses in order to represent the nascent professional clubs of Lancashire's mill towns.
News travels just as fast as money these days. So when Wilson Palacios became a professional footballer in the English Premier League, kidnappers on the island coast of Honduras wasted no time in seizing Wilson's 15 year old brother, Edwin. The Magician of Wigan Pier may have powers against the Arsenal, but he can't find the trick to untie the hands of his brother.
Until the kidnapping, La guerra del fútbol was the usual reference point for discussions of Honduran football, but Honduran football, as typified by the likes of Wilson Palacios, is showing signs of magic. Black magic.
This magic manifested in 2001 when Honduras was invited to make up the numbers in the 2001 Copa America in Colombia. Honduras set the tournament alight with uninhibited attacking play, including a 2-0 smackdown issued to Brazil in the Quarter Final in Manizales.
Brazil should not have been surprised. Brazil has experience of being outplayed by its smaller neighbour, Uruguay. Honduras, like Uruguay, has a small black population, and many, young, gifted and black footballers.
Honduran blacks reside on Honduras' Caribbean coast. Afro Hondurans are descendants of slaves and indentured laborers brought mostly from Jamaica. There are also the Garifuna people, folks of mixed AmerIndian and African ancestry, who are mostly found along the northern coast and islands of Honduras. The are estimated 150,000 Garifuna, most of whom can trace their origin to the expulsion of black people who refused to be subjected slavery on St. Vincent after the Carib Wars.
The Lone Stars of Liberia host the Scorpions of Gambia in Monrovia for the first World Cup qualifiers on June 1st. It promises to be an interesting situation for all concerned since the German had 'officially' been the Gambian coach until late February.
Hey had led Gambia to a series of defeats in recent friendly fixtures, including against Luxembourg. Yes, Luxembourg! It's hard to imagine any team losing to Luxembourg. Hey was also accused by the Department of State for Youth and Sports and the Gambian FA of encouraging "unscrupulous and unpatriotic" foreign based Gambian players petition the Gambian FA for "huge bonus money".
Liberian sports writer Omari Jackson has seen foreign coaches come and go in Liberia. Promises made, promises broken. Jackson sees Hey's Gambian running away experience as being useful training for the German. For Jackson the priority should be the establishment of grassroots football, including the building of a home based league. Obviously Omari Jackson needs no introduction to Albert Memmi.
The appointment of German Reinhold Fanz to manage Cuba did not receive the same coverage as the election of Raúl Castro to the Presidency of the proud Caribbean nation. It may yet turn out to be more significant for Cuba.
Again, the Belichickian model does not apply here. Perhaps, advancing a Yugoslav coach after some of horrific monstrosities Yugoslav architects and builders threw up in Havana is probably not a good idea.
"The goal is to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. I have seen the Cuban team and they have a very good level of fitness, but they have to work on the tactics of the game," Fanz said.
Already I can envisage a Cuban left back dominating a match like Paul Breitner. I can see goals like Gert used to get. And hearts getting broken across the Caribbean, Central and North America. Do not be surprised if Cuban Football and the tagline Vorsprung Durch Technik become synonymous soon.
The Tunisian FA have approached four coaches as possible replacements for Roger Lemerre. The Tunisia Football Federation said on Friday it had approached former French internationals Luis Fernandez and Jean Tigana, the former French national team assistant coach Guy Stephan and Vahid Halilhodzic, a former Yugoslav international. Tunisia have been relatively successful under Lemerre, winning the 2004 African Nations Cup and qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.
The answer is not Guy Stephan. Just ask anyone called Boubacar in Dakar. The Spanish born Fernandez has some appeal. He comes from Tarifa, the most southern most point in Continental Europe. He has managed in the Arab leagues and for Beitar Jerusalem, the team whose supporters cheer the name of Yigal Amir. He stood on the sidelines in Bilbao. Fernandez would not be intimidated if the Tunisia team bus came under a hail of bottles in Algiers or Benghazi. He knows Tunisia, but I suspect he would be just another French journeyman whose star is fading. Jean Tigana. Oh Jean Tigana. Jean Tigana could thread a pass through the hole of a Kaak Warka. Tigana has had a selective managerial career. He delivered for Mohammed Fayed and is held in highest regard by the taxi drivers of Istanbul. I would love to see Tigana manage Tunisia. I realize this counters the Belichickian model so often advanced on this blog, but perhaps Vahid Halilhodzic has had a little too much Hillary-like experience in France.
I expect Memmi might agree with my analysis and would question why the Tunisian FA have not approached a Tunisian to replace the Frenchman.