Reflecting the society in which it operates, football acts in accordance with the environment around it.
On March 24, the day when the Argentines remembered the 1976 coup, all 26 clubs in the first national division took a position on the topic on social networks with the hashtag # NuncaMás. Some of them joined the “Plantamos Memória” campaign, in which fans, members and officials from different sports institutions planted trees in honor of the dead and missing.
On the 31st of March, 57 years after the establishment of the military dictatorship in Brazil, only 7 elite Brazilian clubs spoke about the historic date.
Atlético-MG, Bahia, Corinthians, Fluminense, Fortaleza and Internacional stood with stronger messages in defense of democracy.
“Dictatorship never again”, Fluminense published on Twitter, the same phrase used by Fortaleza and Atlético-MG, which posted a photo of the idol Reinaldo with his fist raised. The Bahians uploaded the hashtag #NuncaMais accompanied by a video with affirmative actions from the club, and the Parque São Jorge team, with a photo of the Corinthians Democracy team, used the phrase “Our History is our opinion”.
Flamengo was another of the elite to manifest, but discreetly, only with the image of the hashtag #DemocraciaSempre on a red-black background.
When considering also the second division, the score of the rout between Argentina and Brazil is even more dilated. Of the 35 associations that make up the second Argentine, 29 manifested themselves on social networks. In Brazil, of the 20 clubs participating in the Serie B, only 5 made mention of the 1964 coup.
From the second national level, Confiança, Náutico, Ponte Preta, Remo and Vasco addressed the topic. Cariocas remembered the date of the coup with the song “O Bêbado ea Equilibrista”, written by Vasco, Aldir Blanc, who died in 2020 of the new coronavirus.
Among Brazilian players, Igor Julião, Fluminense’s right-back, stands out, who published on Ulysses Guimarães’s famous phrase on Twitter: “We hate the dictatorship. Hate and disgust.”
The AFA (Argentine Football Association), on the last 24th, joined the actions for the Day of Remembrance and planted a tree at the entity’s headquarters, an act that was attended by its president, Chiqui Tapia. In Brazil, CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) did not comment on the date.
Argentine society already carries on a long-standing tradition of human rights movements that demand reparations and justice for the horrors practiced by the military.
The mothers of Praça de Maio started this militancy, still in the 1970s, with the tireless denunciation of the disappearance of their children during the dictatorship, an initiative that also originated the group of Grandmothers of Praça de Maio, who started to seek yours grandchildren.
Local football, which celebrated the title of the World Cup disputed in the country in 1978, took some time to incorporate actions and take a position in favor of memory. Clubs are still maturing in their participation in this process, but they are taking important steps to consolidate their contribution to the debate.
On the 20-year anniversary of the coup, on March 24, 1996, the AFA determined that all first division games played on the day should have a minute’s silence before the ball rolls in remembrance of the victims of state terrorism.
The determination was given by the organization a year after Adolfo Scilingo, a former Navy officer, made public the realization of the so-called death flights, in which political prisoners detained by the military were doped and thrown from planes into the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de la Plata. –Scilingo even acknowledged his own participation in the crimes.
Only one match that day did not have the respected minute of silence: Racing 2 x 2 Belgrano, played in Córdoba. Army Sergeant, referee Daniel Giménez refused to comply with the AFA’s request and started the game, to immediately win boos from both fans.
Recently, clubs and their officers have more strongly embraced support for human rights movements, taking on the role of important social agents. A milestone of that commitment was a Banfield initiative in 2019.
The club in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires symbolically restored the status of members to 11 fans who disappeared during the dictatorship. It was the first national football institution to carry out such a reparatory act.
Now in 2021, other clubs have joined this chain, including teams with numerous fans, such as Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente and Racing.
“A decade ago, that fact that clubs would position themselves on a March 24th would not happen. A potent explanation is sports apoliticalism, this theory that sport and politics should not mix. For a long time, this speech was very dominant in the world of sports and football, “says sociologist Julián Scher, author of the book” Disappearing Racing “, to sheet.
“Today there are groups of fans, of members, who promoted these reparative acts and these tributes. The clubs were also victims of the genocide, because the clubs belong to the people. The owners of the clubs are their corporate mass. If there is an imprisoned member, missing or dead, the systematic extermination plan also affected football. ”
In his book, Scher tells the story of Alberto Krug, a Racing fan and member of the Montoneros (the guerrilla of the Peronist left), kidnapped on December 2, 1976.
His mother, Rosa, continued to pay her son’s tuition to the club until 1980, with the certainty that, if he appeared alive, he would return to the stands of the Cylinder of Avellaneda. Alberto never came back. He was tortured at ESMA (Escola Superior de Mecânica da Armada) and was thrown from a plane in the waters of the River Plate.
On the last 24th, Racing announced, with the presence of his brother, Carlos Krug, the return of the partner status to Alberto.
The reaction of Argentine institutions respects a history of preserving memory and fighting for justice, marked by social movements and also by the historic condemnation of the leaders of the military junta, in 1985, under the government of Raúl Alfonsín.
In 2017, when the Supreme Court used a revoked legal remedy to relieve the sentence of military prisoners with the so-called “two for one”, in which each day spent in pre-trial detention would be worth two, there was intense popular demonstration against the measure.
The Argentine Senate unanimously passed a law that prevented the application of “two for one” for crimes against humanity. “Argentine society rejects any impunity pact,” said then deputy Victoria Donda, daughter of missing persons, born in a detention center and raised by a detained repressor (Adolfo Donda) and who could have benefited from the measure to alleviate your condemnation.
In Brazil, the 31st of March and the period of the dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985 are celebrated by sectors of the high echelon of power, mainly in the figure of President Jair Bolsonaro (without party).
On the 18th, the Justice authorized the government to keep on the air a note that celebrated the military coup as a “landmark of Brazilian democracy”. The text had been published on March 31, 2020 on the Ministry of Defense website.
The new defense minister, Walter Souza Braga Netto, affirmed that the 1964 coup “is part of the historical trajectory of Brazil” and “thus the events of that March 31 should be understood and celebrated”.
Most of the major football clubs in the country, supported by the sympathy that power and part of the population (including their fans) have for the date, are comfortable keeping quiet.
“Here in Argentina, who claims the dictatorship is the minority of the minority. And football cannot be decontextualized from society. Due to a certain condition of meaning in our country, it is more difficult for leaders to deny these initiatives than to support them”, complete Julián Scher.
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