Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Soccer in Sun and Shadow

by Eduardo Galeano


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One of the greatest, magical, and most lyrical accounts of the beautiful game

In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the "crazy English" spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.

All the greats-Pelé, Di Stéfano, Cruyff, Eusébio, Puskás, Gullit, Baggio, Beckenbauer- have joyous cameos in this book. yet soccer, Galeano cautions, "is a pleasure that hurts." Thus there is also heartbreak and madness. Galeano tells of the suicide of Uruguayan player Abdón Porte, who shot himself in the center circle of the Nacional's stadium; of the Argentine manager who wouldn't let his team eat chicken because it would bring bad luck; and of scandal-riven Diego Maradona whose real crime, Galeano suggests, was always "the sin of being the best."

Soccer is a game that bureaucrats try to dull and the powerful try to manipulate, but it retains its magic because it remains a bewitching game-"a feast for the eyes ... and a joy for the body that plays it"-exquisitely rendered in the magical stories of Soccer in Sun and Shadow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568584942
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 458,040
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Eduardo Galeano is one of Latin America's most distinguished writers. He is the author of the three-volume Memory of Fire; Open Veins of Latin America; Soccer in Sun and Shadow; The Book of Embraces; Walking Words; Upside Down; and Voices in Time. Born in Montevideo in 1940, he lived in exile in Argentina and Spain for years before returning to Uruguay. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. He is recipient of many international prizes, including the first Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur.

Read an Excerpt

Soccer in Sun and Shadow

By Eduardo Galeano, Mark Fried


Copyright © 2013 Eduardo Galeano
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-3904-1



The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots. In this fin de siècle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not profitable. Nobody earns a thing from that crazy feeling that for a moment turns a man into a child playing with a balloon like a cat with a ball of yarn, a ballet dancer who romps with a ball as light as a balloon or a ball of yarn, playing without even knowing he's playing, with no purpose or clock or referee.

Play has become spectacle, with few protagonists and many spectators, soccer for watching. And that spectacle has become one of the most profitable businesses in the world, organized not for play but rather to impede it. The technocracy of professional sport has managed to impose a soccer of lightning speed and brute strength, a soccer that negates joy, kills fantasy and outlaws daring.

Luckily, on the field you can still see, even if only once in a long while, some insolent rascal who sets aside the script and commits the blunder of dribbling past the entire opposing side, the referee, and the crowd in the stands, all for the carnal delight of embracing the forbidden adventure of freedom.


The Player

Panting, he runs up the wing. On one side awaits heaven's glory; on the other, ruin's abyss.

He is the envy of the neighborhood: the professional athlete who escaped the factory or the office and gets paid to have fun. He won the lottery. And even if he has to sweat buckets, with no right to failure or fatigue, he gets into the papers and on TV. His name is on the radio, women swoon over him and children yearn to be like him. But he started out playing for pleasure in the dirt streets of the slums, and now plays out of duty in stadiums where he has no choice but to win or to win.

Businessmen buy him, sell him, lend him, and he lets it all happen in return for the promise of more fame and more money. The more successful he is and the more money he makes, the more of a prisoner he becomes. Forced to live by military discipline, he suffers the punishing daily round of training and the bombardments of painkillers and cortisone that hide his aches and fool his body. And on the eve of big matches, they lock him up in a concentration camp where he does forced labor, eats tasteless food, gets drunk on water, and sleeps alone.

In other human trades, decline comes with old age, but a soccer player can be old at thirty. Muscles tire early: "That guy couldn't score if the field were on a slope."

"Him? Not even if they tied the keeper's hands."

Or before thirty if the ball knocks him out, or bad luck tears a muscle, or a kick breaks a bone and it can't be fixed. And one rotten day the player discovers he has bet his life on a single card and his money is gone and so is his fame. Fame, that fleeting lady, did not even leave him a Dear John letter.


The Goalkeeper

They also call him doorman, keeper, goalie, bouncer, or net-minder, but he could just as well be called martyr, pay-all, penitent, or punching bag. They say where he walks the grass never grows.

He is alone, condemned to watch the match from afar. Never leaving the goal, his only company the two posts and the crossbar, he awaits his own execution by firing squad. He used to dress in black, like the referee. Now the referee doesn't have to dress like a crow and the goalkeeper can console himself in his solitude with colorful gear.

He does not score goals; he is there to keep them from being scored. The goal is soccer's fiesta: the striker sparks delight and the goalkeeper, a wet blanket, snuffs it out.

He wears the number one on his back. The first to be paid? No, the first to pay. It is always the keeper's fault. And when it isn't, he still gets blamed. Whenever a player commits a foul, the keeper is the one who gets punished: they abandon him there in the immensity of the empty net to face his executioner alone. And when the team has a bad afternoon, he is the one who pays the bill, expiating the sins of others under a rain of flying balls.

The rest of the players can blow it once in a while, or often, and then redeem themselves with a spectacular dribble, a masterful pass, a well-placed volley. Not him. The crowd never forgives the goalkeeper. Was he drawn out by a fake? Left looking ridiculous? Did the ball skid? Did his fingers of steel turn to putty? With a single slip-up the goalie can ruin a match or lose a championship, and the fans suddenly forget all his feats and condemn him to eternal disgrace. Damnation will follow him to the end of his days.


The Idol

One fine day the goddess of the wind kisses the foot of man, that mistreated, scorned foot, and from that kiss the soccer idol is born. He is born in a straw crib in a tin-roofed shack and he enters the world clinging to a ball.

From the moment he learns to walk, he knows how to play. In his early years he brings joy to the sandlots, plays like crazy in the back alleys of the slums until night falls and you can't see the ball. In his early manhood he takes flight and the stadiums fly with him. His acrobatic art draws multitudes, Sunday after Sunday, from victory to victory, ovation to ovation.

The ball seeks him out, knows him, needs him. She rests and rocks on the top of his foot. He caresses her and makes her speak, and in that tête-à-tête millions of mutes converse. The nobodies, those condemned to always be nobodies, feel they are somebodies for a moment by virtue of those one-two passes, those dribbles that draw Z's on the grass, those incredible backheel goals or overhead volleys. When he plays, the team has twelve players: "Twelve? It has fifteen! Twenty!"

The ball laughs, radiant, in the air. He brings her down, puts her to sleep, showers her with compliments, dances with her, and seeing such things never before seen his admirers pity their unborn grandchildren who will never see them.

But the idol is an idol for only a moment, a human eternity, all of nothing. And when the time comes for the golden foot to become a lame duck, the star will have completed his journey from burst of light to black hole. His body has more patches than a clown's costume, and by now the acrobat is a cripple, the artist a beast of burden: "Not with your clodhoppers!"

The fountain of public adulation becomes the lightning rod of public rancor: "You mummy!"

Sometimes the idol does not fall all at once. And sometimes when he breaks, people devour the pieces.


The Fan

Once a week, the fan flees his house for the stadium.

Banners wave and the air resounds with noisemakers, firecrackers and drums; it rains streamers and confetti. The city disappears, its routine forgotten. All that exists is the temple. In this sacred place, the only religion without atheists puts its divinities on display. Although the fan can contemplate the miracle more comfortably on TV, he prefers to make the pilgrimage to this spot where he can see his angels in the flesh doing battle with the demons of the day.

Here the fan shakes his handkerchief, gulps his saliva, swallows his bile, eats his cap, whispers prayers and curses and suddenly lets loose a full-throated scream, leaping like a flea to hug the stranger at his side cheering the goal. While the pagan mass lasts, the fan is many. Along with thousands of other devotees he shares the certainty that we are the best, that all referees are crooked, that all our adversaries cheat.

Rarely does the fan say, "My club plays today." He says, "We play today." He knows it is "player number twelve" who stirs up the winds of fervor that propel the ball when she falls asleep, just as the other eleven players know that playing without their fans is like dancing without music.

When the match is over, the fan, who has not moved from the stands, celebrates his victory: "What a goal we scored!" "What a beating we gave them!" Or he cries over his defeat: "They swindled us again." "Thief of a referee." And then the sun goes down and so does the fan. Shadows fall over the emptying stadium. On the concrete terracing, a few fleeting bonfires burn, while the lights and voices fade. The stadium is left alone and the fan, too, returns to his solitude: to the I who had been we. The fan goes off, the crowd breaks up and melts away, and Sunday becomes as melancholy as Ash Wednesday after the death of Carnival.


The Fanatic

The fanatic is a fan in a madhouse. His mania for denying all evidence finally upended whatever once passed for his mind, and the remains of the shipwreck spin about aimlessly in waters whipped by a fury that gives no quarter.

The fanatic shows up at the stadium prickling with strident and aggressive paraphernalia, wrapped in the team flag, his face painted the colors of his beloved team's shirts; on the way he makes a lot of noise and a lot of fuss. He never comes alone. In the midst of the rowdy crowd, dangerous centipede, this cowed man will cow others, this frightened man becomes frightening. Omnipotence on Sunday exorcises the obedient life he leads the rest of the week: the bed with no desire, the job with no calling, or no job at all. Liberated for a day, the fanatic has much to avenge.

In an epileptic fit he watches the match but does not see it. His arena is the stands. They are his battleground. The mere presence of a fan of the other side constitutes an inexcusable provocation. Good is not violent by nature, but Evil leaves it no choice. The enemy, always in the wrong, deserves a thrashing. The fanatic cannot let his mind wander because the enemy is everywhere, even in that quiet spectator who at any moment might offer the opinion that the rival team is playing fairly. Then he'll get what he deserves.


The Goal

The goal is soccer's orgasm. And like orgasms, goals have become an ever less frequent occurrence in modern life.

Half a century ago, it was a rare thing for a match to end scoreless: 0—0, two open mouths, two yawns. Now the eleven players spend the entire match hanging from the crossbar, trying to stop goals, and they have no time to score them.

The excitement unleashed whenever the white bullet makes the net ripple might appear mysterious or crazy, but remember, the miracle does not happen often. The goal, even if it be a little one, is always a goooooooooooooooooooooal in the throat of the commentators, a "do" sung from the chest that would leave Caruso forever mute and the crowd goes nuts and the stadium forgets that it is made of concrete and breaks free of the earth and flies through the air.


The Referee

In Spanish he is the árbitro and he is arbitrary by definition. An abominable tyrant who runs his dictatorship without opposition, a pompous executioner who exercises his absolute power with an operatic flourish. Whistle between his lips, he blows the winds of inexorable fate to allow a goal or to disallow one. Card in hand, he raises the colors of doom: yellow to punish the sinner and oblige him to repent, and red to force him into exile.

The linesmen, who assist but do not rule, look on from the side. Only the referee steps onto the playing field, and he is certainly right to cross himself when he first appears before the roaring crowd. His job is to make himself hated. The only universal sentiment in soccer: everybody hates him. He gets only catcalls, never applause.

Nobody runs more. This interloper, whose panting fills the ears of all twenty-two players, is obliged to run the entire match without pause. He breaks his back galloping like a horse, and in return for his pains the crowd howls for his head. From beginning to end he sweats oceans chasing the white ball that skips back and forth between the feet of everyone else. Of course he would love to play, but never has he been offered that privilege. When the ball hits him by accident, the entire stadium curses his mother. But even so, he is willing to suffer insults, jeers, stones, and damnation just to be there in that sacred green space where the ball floats and glides.

Sometimes, though rarely, his judgment coincides with the inclinations of the fans, but not even then does he emerge unscathed. The losers owe their loss to him and the winners triumph in spite of him. Scapegoat for every error, cause of every misfortune, the fans would have to invent him if he did not already exist. The more they hate him, the more they need him.

For over a century the referee dressed in mourning. For whom? For himself. Now he wears bright colors to disguise his distress.


Excerpted from Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano, Mark Fried. Copyright © 2013 Eduardo Galeano. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Dedication xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Author's Confession 1

Soccer 2

The Player 3

The Goalkeeper 4

The Idol 5

The Fan 7

The Fanatic 8

The Goal 9

The Referee 10

The Manager 12

The Theater 14

The Specialists 16

The Language of Soccer Doctors 17

Choreographed War 18

The Language of War 19

The Stadium 20

The Ball 21

The Origins 25

The Rules of the Game 28

The English Invasions 31

Creole Soccer 33

The Story of Fla and Flu 35

The Opiate of the People? 36

A Rolling Flag 38

Blacks 42

Zamora 43

Samitier 45

Death on the Field 46

Friedenreich 47

From Mutilation to Splendor 48

The Second Discovery of America 50

Andrade 53

Ringlets 54

The Olympic Goal 55

Goal by Piendibene 56

The Bicycle Kick 57

Scarone 58

Goal by Scarone 59

The Occult Forces 60

Goal by Nolo 61

The 1930 World Cup 62

Nasazzi 65

Camus 66

Juggernauts 67

Turning Pro 68

The 1934 World Cup 69

God and the Devil in Rio de Janeiro 71

The Sources of Misfortune 73

Amulets and Spells 74

Erico 76

The 1938 World Cup 77

Goal by Meazza 80

Leônidas 81

Domingos 82

Domingos and She 83

Goal by Atilio 84

The Perfect Kiss Would Like to Be Unique 85

The Machine 86

Moreno 87

Pedernera 89

Goal by Severino 90

Bombs 91

The Man Who Turned Iron into Wind 92

Contact Therapy 93

Goal by Martino 95

Goal by Heleno 96

The 1950 World Cup 97

Obdulio 100

Barbosa 101

Goal by Zarra 102

Goal by Zizinho 103

The Fun Lovers 104

The 1954 World Cup 105

Goal by Rahn 107

Walking Advertisements 108

Goal by Di Stéfano 111

Di Stéfano 112

Goal by Garrincha 113

The 1958 World Cup 114

Goal by Nilton 117

Garrincha 118

Didi 120

Didi and She 121

Kopa 122

Carrizo 123

Shirt Fever 124

Goal by Puskás 128

Goal by Sanfilippo 129

The 1962 World Cup 130

Goal by Charlton 133

Yashin 134

Goal by Gento 135

Seeler 136

Matthews 137

The 1966 World Cup 138

Greaves 141

Goal by Beckenbauer 142

Eusebio 143

The Curse of the Posts 144

Peñarol's Glory Years 146

Goal by Rocha 147

My Poor Beloved Mother 148

Tears Do Not Flow from a Handkerchief 149

Goal by Pelé 151

Pelé 152

The 1970 World Cup 153

Goal by Jairzinho 155

The Fiesta 156

Soccer and the Generals 158

Don't Blink 159

Goal by Maradona 160

The 1974 World Cup 161

Cruyff 164

Müller 165

Havelange 166

The Owners of the Ball 168

Jesus 173

The 1978 World Cup 174

Happiness 177

Goal by Gemmill 179

Goal by Bettega 180

Goal by Sunderland 181

The 1982 World Cup 182

Pears from an Elm 185

Platini 187

Pagan Sacrifices 188

The 1986 World Cup 192

The Telecracy 195

Staid and Standardized 198

Running Drugstores 200

Chants of Scorn 201

Anything Goes 203

Indigestion 207

The 1990 World Cup 208

Goal by Rincón 210

Hugo Sánchez 211

The Cricket and the Ant 213

Gullit 214

Parricide 216

Goal by Zico 217

A Sport of Evasion 218

The 1994 World Cup 222

Romário 225

Baggio 226

A Few Numbers 227

The Duty of Losing 229

The Sin of Losing 230

Maradona 232

They Don't Count 237

An Export Industry 239

The End of the Match 242

Extra Time: The 1998 World Cup 245

The 2002 World Cup 253

The 2006 World Cup 258

The 2010 World Cup 263

Sources 271

Index 279

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