I have always said that Ezequiel Fernández Moores is one of the best writers around. Bar none. Forget language, he surpasses that because his message and his topics surpass the Tower of Babel. Here is his latest masterpiece on the relationship between today’s Argentina, who is currently at grips with its past and present, and their relationship with the world’s greatest footballer- Lionel Messi. This is a translation of his article that was published yesterday on La Nación in Argentina.
Dozens of kids jump onto the track at the IBK Stadium in Kolkata. The policemen have photos of Lionel Messi. his presence in India is a complete success. The match promoter is thrilled, so thrilled he pays Messi US$ 200,ooo more. ”Boys”, says the new captain of the Argentine national team as he gathers his teammates, “I am dying of heat just like all of you. I made the trip just like you and got my vaccinations just like you. The money is for all of yours.” It’s September 2nd, 2012 and in this 1-0 friendly win against Venezuela Alejandro Sabella makes his debut as national team coach. “If you publish it, they will deny it because they aren’t interested in it transcending”, says someone close to Messi’s entourage. Another source, close to the match organizers for Argentina confirms that information. He also adds, Messi, a captain that calls injured teammate, asks for travel plans and rejects hotel privileges, shares any extra moneys he receives in Argentine national team friendlies.
“Now that I am here, I want to say something to the Argentine people. He have this kid with us since he was 12 years old in Barcelona. We wanted him to become a Spaniard and he refused. He understands Catalan perfectly, but he never speaks it. We want him to stay and live with us, but he is playing with us. I can assure you that the day he finishes playing with us, he will be in Argentina, in Rosario because he sleeps facing Rosario.
This is why I cannot believe that in this country still doubts that Messi is not committed to the national team. Doubting this is doubting life itself.” Gabriel Masfurroll, representative of the Fundación Barcelona, shocks many in Buenos Aires. It was a speech that was distant from the usual script. So five months after the Argentina going down in flames in the World Cup under the tutelage of Diego Maradona; during the presentation over at Cardales for the Leo Messi Foundation, whom he also works with in silence.
In 2011, Messi received the two biggest jeers from a crowd in his career. The first was in a draw against Colombia in Santa Fe and then in World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia at the Estadio Monumental when Alejandro Sabella was coach after replacing Sergio Batista. Things would change on November 15th in Barranquilla. The national team were coming off losing to Venezuela for the first time ever. They were losing to Colombia and things were looking bad. Messi put the team on his shoulders and leads them to a 2-1 win.
Happy 2012! Playing good or bad and looking more like Real Madrid than Barcelona, Messi was now the team’s leader. The videos showing his 91 goals scored this year with Barcelona. Then they add the ones he scored for the national team. He was almost always the best player. Messi had spent nearly two and a half years without scoring for the national team- 16 matches. The same critics woud find another excuse: the goals have to be made in the World Cup. “One day”, as was written in the blog En Una Baldosa, “Messi would give us back Malvinas and we would criticize him because he forgot to wear his escarapela”.
Street protests, blackouts, political corruption or subway workers strike. “This shit country”. Convinced that things like these only happen in Buenos Aires, Argentines go to the same whip they always have used. “We live frustrating with Argentina, we should be a country that we are not”, says anthropologist Alejandro Grimson, who talks about that in his latest book “Mitomanías Argentinas”. when something is a reason of pride, such as Messi, Grimson said that we would rather doubt its “Argentinism”. He responds by saying “The way we analyze ourselves in this world, we analyze Messi”.
Writer Martín Caparrós says so, that Messi, effectively, “is a synthesis of the current Argentinism: meat, soy, very good exported raw materials so it can be processed and used elsewhere. He had to go to Spain. “If we get a little more radical”, he adds, “you could think that is why we cannot completely be comfortable with Messi because he reminds us too much of our limitations. That mix of talent and waste that we tend to be.”
The Argentines, wrote Juan Sasturaín a few days before in 7D magazine, we had to lose the “typical pride” and assume “the fearful reality of football that we’ve been able to destroy” and stop criticizing Messi. In contrast to Maradona (“almost excessively Argentine”), we appreciate Messi the he is now “Argentine”. We appreciate, Sasturaín adds, “because we know we only partially own him”.
“It’s not Messi’s fault that Argentines are not able to end our mourning with Diego”, wrote Eduardo Sacheri last month in El Gráfico. “We are drowning in melancholy, prisoners of nostalgia, paralyzed in history”, Sacheri adds, we have impeded ourselves in enjoying Messi. “But I”, said Sacheri, “I don’t want to ruin my present with the burdens of the past”. An extraordinary compatriot was always “a Gardel” or after Mexico ’86, “a Maradona”.
Last week it was announced on cable channel TN that they were interviewing “The Messi of Science”. Messi, the Argentine of the Year” was the title of Newsweek Argentina’s December edition. The Circle of Sports Journalists (CPD) did not tend to agree. They awarded boxer Sergio Martínez with the annual Olímpia de Oro, given the the country’s best athlete. The champion barely beat out Argentina’s lone Olympic gold medalist Sebastián Crismanich. Messi ended up in third. A message appeared in La Nación —they were the in the minority — agreed with the decision. The message said, “They should have given the award to Maravilla Martínez that was the champion of the world in his weight class and (like this in all caps) REPRESENTING ARGENTINA AND NOT A FOREIGN CLUB Thank you”.
The new father of Thiago, Messi was virtually invisible during his last vacation stay in Rosario. Even today, it is very difficult to find images that the star was born there. Such as the giant print that can show the Obelisco and the Luna Park, symbols of Buenos Aires. Leo arrived in Rosario hours after supermarkets in the poorest sector, where he was born, of the city were massively looted right before Christmas. There were two people reported dead, 23 injured and 127 arrested.
There was lots of controversy of these political operations. Even with the inflation, the current Argentine economy is a far cry Hubo polémicas de supuestas operaciones políticas. Aún con inflación, la economía argentina está lejos de la crisis de 2001, that emerged a little while after the Messis decided to travel to Barcelona. Four days before the lootings , a tribunal in Rosario had a record year for judicial sentencing of members of the military dictatorship and its former repressors. Manuel Gonçalves celebrated it. His mother was assassinated and he was hidden in order to save his life. He was five months old. His new family called him Claudio Novoa. it took Manuel 19 years to recover his identity and 37 to receive justice. In that same Rosario in his Arroyo Seco ranch, pure green, just meters away from the Paraná River. Each time he stepped out, he woud sign autographs and posed for pictures, like he always does.
In the only interview he gave, to Diario Olé, he reiterated his dream to win the World Cup in Brazil. A World Cup is the only that that would unite the “K’s” (those that support the government of Cristina Fernández) and the “anti-K”. Sabella has been doing by protecting Messi on the pitch and to relieve pressure off of it. Argentina’s national team will have a 20-year drought as of 2013 and they will arrive in Brazil a year later as a contender.
I asked philosopher Tomás Abraham about Messi. He and Caparrós met on more than one occasion to see Barça-Madrid. “All I can say is that life has been good to me,” says Tomás. “I saw Maradona debut at Argentinos Juniors, I saw Pelé play at La Bombonera and I try to see every match that Messi plays. There hasn’t been a player in history with the genius of this dwarf. He’s a miracle. he’s an Argentines, he’s a Pibe (kid) from the potrero (sandlots), he’s not a Kirchnerista, he loves his parents, he’s soft spoken and he could play the violin with his feet… he doesn’t deserve a Ballon D’Or, he deserves much more. With Di Stéfano we crowned the Merengues in glory and with Borges we embellished the language in a way that hadn’t been done done since Cervantes. Messi deserves that King Juan Carlos give him his crown so he does something for eternity”.
“If Messi were a Kirchernista would that invalidate the other?”, I asked Abraham as I kept playing his game, because Leo talks about the govermen.
“No”, he asks me, “if Messi were a K he wouldn’t be Messi. He’d be Xavi”.
Original article found in La Nación