Argentinian Diary – The G-20 effect on Buenos Aires

Designed to keep the people out

Designed to keep the people out

Argentinian Diary – Day 4

After four days all plans thrown up in the air

The last thing I though I would be doing, within a week of landing in Argentina, would be sharing the air with 20 of the most duplicitous, cheating, thieving and corrupt creatures on the planet. But that’s what I’ll be doing from Thursday night and for the next three days. For on Friday the 2018 G-20 summit officially begins here in Buenos Aires.

If I had known the summit was to take place I certainly wouldn’t have organised a flight to the southernmost city on the continent on any of days it was due to take place. But not knowing I innocently booked a flight to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires this coming Friday morning. Since I became aware (yesterday evening) the gangsters and their equally odious entourages were to descend on this country, in its own deepening economic and social crisis, I have been trying to decide what to do.

As these meetings have been drawing protests wherever they take place the matter of ‘security’ has become the most important aspect of any planning. But that ‘security’ takes precedence over anything and anyone else. I’m still getting to know the city of Buenos Aires but with what little I do know I can see how this meeting will cause unbelievable disruption during its three days duration. A vast area along the north-eastern coastal edge of the city will become a virtual no-go area.

Public transport in the area will be non-existent for the best part of three days. This includes buses, the subway and even the city’s main railway station – only a shadow of its former splendour.

Pedestrian access will also be strictly regulated – all aimed at preventing the mass build-up of protestors. But everything is unsure. I spent part of this morning trying to get answers about how access will be effected over the weekend but no-one could give me a definitive answer. Knowing what will be the situation no more than eight hours before in advance makes any planning impossible.

So after four days in the country with the only fixed, more or less, plan I have so far made have been ditched. I’ve extended my stay in Buenos Aires till Tuesday of next week – when, in theory, everything will have returned to normal.

When I made that decision, literally on the hoof, as I was walking to the bus station to find out if or how I could get to the international airport for a 09.00 flight I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find anywhere to stay. Would all accommodation, especially of the more economic kind such as my hostel, not be full of angry protestors. The fact there was no problem in extending my stay might indicate the level of the protest – at least from those non-Argentinians.

It will almost certainly mean that I’ll have to forego the airfare. When you go the cheapest way there’s no opportunity to change the timetable. My only hope in this matter is that the workers of Aerolineas Argentinas will call a strike for Friday and I’ll get my money back or an alternative flight. That’s not totally impossible. Strike action is taking place this week as part of a long running dispute with the management. And a statement made by the Transport Minister that I read in a newspaper yesterday was definitely intended to ratchet up tensions by insulting all who work for the company.

This Minister, whose name I can’t and don’t even want to remember, has obviously be cast from the same ugly mould as the transport incumbent in the present British Tory government.

Having made the decision before the end of today at least I won’t be losing out on accommodation I had already booked. The internet booking sites are useful in that way when plans have to be changed at short notice.

The reason for my decision was twofold – the first being more important. I’m very unlikely to be in the same place as the conspirators cabal at any time in the future and it would be a crime to be leaving when it all was going to kick off – whatever that might be. What made that decision easier was the sheer logistical nightmare of getting to the airport. There’s no definitive information about what the restrictions are or how they will affect anyone not part of the circus. They know everything, we know nothing.

Things might be easy (although very unlikely) but I wouldn’t know until I tried to get away. The money has been spent so there’s no real loss. And it will be interesting to see how the Argentinian workers and any foreign supporters will react to the criminal gang polluting their atmosphere. So what’s the reason no to be here?

I’ll have to make efforts to find out exactly what is planned for the three days. I know there is definitely a demo in the timetable for Friday, but exactly where and when I have yet to discover. Yesterday afternoon I was able to eventually get in touch with the only Argentinian contact I have. She’s a Trade Union official and I know she will have all the details to hand. Between now and Friday I have to make sure I also have them. But I forgot about a rally that had been called for this (Tuesday) evening and didn’t remember that it was taking place until I saw a ‘live’ report on the TV. I don’t believe I missed anything. Such rallies are merely a reaffirmation of what the people think, useful, no doubt, but in the general it rarely takes the movement forward.

The weekend could be an interesting few days. The Argentinian state is already ready geared up to deal with crowds who might represent something the government, of whatever political colour, might not like. On my first Saturday afternoon here I saw these large black screens (the name of which I read last night in relation to the ‘incidente’ of Saturday, but can’t at the moment remember and the young people in the hostel I have asked couldn’t come up with the exact name) in the area of the Casa Rosada, pushed to the side but within easy deployment reach.

On my way to the bus station to find out about transport to the airport there were many of them around one of the hotels that will be used by those lackeys attending the summit – many of them spanking new. The no-go area is so large they will be a need for thousands of these things – so someone has already made a pretty penny out of the meeting.

I’ve never experienced a city in lock-down so if you would like to know what happens watch this space for updates.

An Argentinian Joke

It might lose a bit in the translation but this is related to the ‘incidente’ of last Saturday and the on/off, if/when, and where of this incredibly boring game of football. (I never expected to write such a lot and spend so much time on this game.)

‘¿Has escuchado que el partido se juega en martes?’

Have you hear that the game will be played on Tuesday?

‘¿Esta semana que viene?’

‘Next week?

‘No, en la planeta.’

‘No, on the planet.’

In Spanish ‘martes’ means both Tuesday and the planet Mars.

Even more on the ‘incidente’ of Saturday

It has started to be a metaphor of the malaise in which the country is gripped. If you can’t organise an efficient sporting event then how can you run a country? People have ‘resigned’ (i.e., thrown to the wolves, and the only way this might come to an end is the fact that the G-20 will become even more of an issue. But that only lasts three days and if it’s a bad news day on Monday then the sharks will be out for the frenzy. That’s especially so as although the date/s of the game has been announced, the location hasn’t. I’m not really sure how you can do that? And we allow these cretins to rule us. Who is worse, them or us?

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Argentinian Diary – Demonstrations in central Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Demonstration - 26th November 2018

Buenos Aires Demonstration – 26th November 2018

Argentinian Diary – Day 3

The day of the demonstration – or two

I was lucky on my first Monday morning in Buenos Aires/Argentina. I was looking for a shop to get a local SIM card. I didn’t find the place I was looking for but in the process came across people congregating for a demonstration – or was it two?

It seems that the little garden area to the south of the Obelisk, on Avenida 9 de Julio, in the central part of Buenos Aires is the traditional starting place for workers’ demonstrations. Arriving at that part of the city at around 11.00 on Monday 26th November 2018 I noticed a number of banners and went to investigate.

It was immediately obvious that this was a left-wing, anti-government gathering. The first banner I saw was one of the MST (Movimiento Sin Trabajo – Unemployed Workers Movement) but this was still in the early stages of people arriving and others were in the process of fixing their banners to their carrying poles.

In various Latin American countries there’s a form of displaying your banners and statements which is nation specific. Many countries don’t use poles at all and the banner is carried in the hands of the supporters. In many ways these banners are not designed to be preserved but address a particular issue. Here in Argentina they seem to go closer to what was the British tradition. That’s having a distinctive and long-term banner which indicates who the organisation is that is supporting the aims of the march.

Whilst not being as ornate as some of the Trade Union Banners that used to be paraded through the streets of various cities and towns of Britain (many of which, with factory and whole industry closures many of these are now only seen in the museum context of the People’s History Museum in Manchester) some of the banners had had significant time and effort expended upon their creation.

There was a variety of Party Political banners (not all of their political allegiance I could work out) but also a number of very local neighbourhood (barrio) banners. I liked that approach, in a way, as it was good that people are demonstrating in a way that shows solidarity based on where they lived. Trade Unions having been attacked and seriously challenged in all countries for various reasons what the working class needs are organisations which bring people together with something in common. ‘Issue politics’, which is becoming dominant throughout the world divides us rather than unites us. Where the working class live is still a positive uniting and organisation positive.

As we got closer to midday more and more people started to arrive. This demonstration was not going to be damp squib. But at that time I didn’t know of the strange situation that existed, but which all those there did.

One matter that struck me as I walked amongst this crowd (which had a higher presence of women than most of the demonstrations I have been on) was that this was not a representative selection of people from Argentinian society. I’ve only been here for a few days but on the streets there’s a mix of people from those with European features to those whose roots are obviously from a pre-Columbian culture. The latter tend to be shorter and with a darker complexion.

The overwhelming features of the crowd congregating close to the Obelisk were with an indigenous background. This is not really surprising. Throughout Latin America those with roots pre-Hispanic invasion are lucky to have survived. Those who have will almost invariably get the dirty end of the stick. Racism is as rife in Latin America as in other parts of the world. This ‘racial divide’ indicates that Argentina still has some way to go if the workers want to face the severe situation that is worsening by the day.

What was surprising, and disappointing, when I had the chance to think about my chance experience, was the lack of any organised, working class, trade union presence at this gathering. If they were there then I didn’t see them and there were certainly no work related banners. Organised labour was absent and that has obvious serious consequences for any struggle. It just demonstrates the effectiveness of the ruling class in being able to divert any struggle into a local matter (however important) rather than confront issues from a class standpoint.

This ‘neighbourhood environment, however, did have its positives. There was evidence that the ‘barrios’ had organised food for the people who had come to the demonstration. Some of them marched as a group to the meeting place, together with their drummers. As a foreigner I could see that people wanted to be with those they knew, their neighbours and friends. The jockeying for places was something I’ve never seen in the many demonstrations I’ve been on in my political life.

Without any announcement, at least which I heard, at 12.00 a section of the crowd moved away from the garden in the middle of what I understand is supposed to be the widest road in the world and started to form up at one of the slip roads.

Remembering two martyrs

Remembering two martyrs

But I should be giving an explanation of why this demonstration was taking place at all, To the best of my knowledge it was a reaction to the murder of a 36 year old activist, Rodrigo Orellana, who was involved in the occupation of a piece of empty land in an area to the south of Buenos Aires. He was shot in the back by the police very early in the morning of Thursday 22nd November. Another activist, Marcos Jesus Soria was killed by police in Cordoba last Saturday. There were other issues, there always are, in a time when the working class throughout the world are still paying the cost of the last capitalist crisis with the next one only around the corner, but Rodrigo’s and Marcos’s murders seems to have been the main reason for the calling of this demonstration, when the week itself was full of events due to the G20 meeting.

If I have read the situation correctly it was very impressive that so many people could have been called out onto the streets in such a short space of time.

Ready for action

Ready for action

Up to now there had been no obvious police presence. That changed when the first part of the demonstration moved away from the garden and onto the road. At first I was pleased that so many people were on the streets and would cause traffic chaos. But however many people were there it was all controlled by a couple of motorcycle, city police who were at the front of the march. The hundreds, thousands, of people who were on to the road would only be allowed to cross an intersection if the chaos of people blocking junctions could be minimised.

For reasons that make no sense, other than making a statement that the state is always ready to stand up against any workers manifestation of defiance, at the very place where the head of the march formed up, a contingent of about 30 riot police, with all their ‘necessary’ equipment were standing on the pavement, letting the demonstrators (many of whom were with very young children) know who was really in control. These miserable lapdogs of the ruling class are a carbuncle on society – in whatever country they might appear – and a rational approach to how to deal with them is something that should be in the thoughts of all revolutionaries. As a demonstration of female inclusiveness there was one woman, at least, in this group of state-sponsored and armed thugs.

Slowly more people joined the others on the road and the area around the garden started to empty out and eventually the MST banner mentioned above was at the rear. For some reason there appeared to be some hesitation to move off but when it did I was bemused to see that there were still hundreds of people, and a not inconsiderable number of banners still by the Obelisk – and there was no sign that they were going to move. All kinds of thoughts came through my mind. Was there some sort of political schism that I was unaware of and there had been a decision to split the march? I certainly hadn’t been aware of any animosity when I was mingling with the crowd. I just couldn’t work it out.

The march moves off

The march moves off

I followed the march for a few blocks to just before it turned right off the main avenue, heading in the direction of the Congress Building only a few more blocks away. I didn’t know what to do. I would have liked to have seen the march to its end but wanted to try to find out the reason why those who had not joined the march did so.

(From my political point of view I did see a banner and a flag of an organisation calling itself the ‘Partido Revolutionario Marxista-Leninista – which doesn’t seem to have an Internet presence (which I personally is over-rated but must be there if for no other reason that to direct people to Party publications and activities) so don’t know if it is a realistic entity. Depending upon my future plans I will attempt to search out this group in the coming weeks.)

Arriving back at the meeting point it was soon obvious that this was very much a neighbourhood event (ALL the banners were displaying that fact) as speakers were making their thoughts known. However, the PA system was far too inadequate for any but those really close to the speakers to be able to hear anything. Being at a busy traffic intersection didn’t help. This rally was also about deaths at the hands of the authorities and probably had been planned for some time – the reason that two separate demonstrations were taking place at the same time.

I don’t know if that rally was to later go on the streets and make their feelings known at a government building as the rally seemed to be going on forever and there was no sign of movement. Later that evening, reading a newspaper in a bar, a lot of my questions were answered – even more so the next day when the big demo that had moved towards the Congress Building was reported in Tuesday’s papers. I didn’t see any mention of the rally.

I can see that there might have been a desire on behalf of the organisers and supporters of this neighbourhood rally to have their case separate, in the hope of giving the issue more publicity but I don’t really understand why some effort wasn’t made to incorporate the original cause in the wider movement.

An efficient and effective PA could have been set up and the speakers could have addressed the whole of the crowd that had assembled. Then together the expanded group could have marched to the Congress. Nothing will change based on either of those two events but it would have been a move forward to unite all the grievances of the people against the ruling class of Argentina and the world.

(When I first planned this post I wasn’t aware that the 2018 G20 summit was due to take place here at the end of this week. That presents a couple of issues. First is that the area I am staying in will be virtually shut down from Thursday night until late on Sunday. That creates a logistical problem as I have a flight to the south early on Friday morning and, as of now, have no idea how to get to the airport as all the buses and transport are seriously disrupted. The other issue is that I would like to be here as I know there are a number of demonstrations planned and I’ll miss out. Hopefully, the Argentinian National Airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, are planning strike action this week and that might give me the opportunity to change my flight and stay for another few days. Time will tell.)

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Argentinian Diary – The ‘incidente’ between La Boca players and River Plate fans

Argentinian Diary – Day 2

Football and the ‘incidente’ of Saturday 24th November 2018

Although I knew that football was big in Argentina (with a fervour that makes European teams’ supporters appear like casual watchers) I didn’t think that I would be writing about the topic within 36 hours of arriving in the country.

The background, as even non-football supporters will probably know about by now due to what happened yesterday, is that two Buenos Aires based teams, River Plate and Boca Juniors, were due to play the second leg of the Copa Libertadores Final in the home stadium, El Monumental, of the River Plate team. With such an intense rivalry between the two teams it had been agreed, a long time in advance, that away supporters would be banned from the game.

I knew nothing of this and the first time I was aware of any match being played at all, not taking into account a major cup final, was when I was walking in the central area of the city and saw (and heard) Boca supporters driving around the streets in buses, cars and on motorbikes, tooting on horns and waving flags and shouting the name of La Boca before heading to some bar to watch the match on TV.

The little bar I went to, situated in the same building complex as the Ministry of the Interior, had the TV on, and was expecting people in later to watch the match. I decided that if matters got too intense I’d move out. However, although it took some time for me to realise it, what was drawing the attention of the bar’s clients wasn’t the match itself but the ‘incidente’ that had occurred as the Boca Juniors team bus arrived at the El Monumental stadium and how that panned out over the course of the next few hours or so (and unbeknownst to all of us at the time, for an indefinite time in the future).

The following ‘report’ will be from the view of the locals (or at least my interpretation of that view) who saw matters, I think, slightly different from the way it might have been presented to Europeans by the likes of the sanitised version I read from the BBC on the Sunday morning.

The ‘facts’ are that the bus, bringing the Boca Juniors team and officials (only from the other side of town) was attacked by the River Plate ‘hinchas’ (obsessed fans) and stones and bottles thrown and that the Prefectura (the national naval police) decided to spray the River Plate fans with tear gas. But as with all ‘facts’ that statement might be open to interpretation.

Now, as we all know, especially in Europe as the anniversary of the end of the 1914-1919 World War has just been ‘celebrated’, that the use of any gas against people is a very tricky and fraught exercise. You can’t control who it effects, sometimes the target, sometimes yourself and sometimes the ‘innocent’. And in this case the ‘innocent’ were the Boca Juniors players and officials.

Now I’m not going to comment on the rivalry between different football teams’ fans. Sociologists worldwide, I’m sure, have tried to understand how such rivalry often leads to extreme situations. The various states and the worldwide media have a lot to do with it. Keep people fighting amongst themselves over who wins a game of kicking a ball around for an hour and a half and they might not fight back against capitalism (which also makes a fortune out of the fans support in ticket sales, merchandising and TV rights) and the shit conditions into which it forces huge sections of the population, in many countries and on a regular, cyclical basis. This is the modern day equivalent of the ‘bread and games’ tactics of the Roman Emperors. However, present day capitalism is more ‘developed’ in keeping its populations docile and less of a threat to its existence. They make the population pay through the nose for the distractions which make them forget their miserable existence.

When it comes to the ‘incidente’ of 24th November 2018 there are other questions that need to be asked yet almost certainly won’t be answered. The state creates the situation where there’s a likelihood of an explosion but then walks away and blames the people it has created.

What was interesting for me, in a tiny out of the way bar, which, I thought at the time was filled with Boca Junior supporters (bars in Hispanic countries, from my experience, are openly and clearly partisan when it comes to football but I learnt the situation in Argentina seems to be more relaxed) was that what the customers were saying was not against the supporters of River Plate who were throwing stones and bottles but was more against the police and the organisers in general who were displaying a total lack of organisation to allow such a situation to arise in the first place.

So to the questions being asked:

Why was the bus taken on a route and at a time when it was obvious it would have to pass River Plate ‘hinchas’, many of whom wouldn’t have been able to get a ticket?

Why, when there was a situation where tensions would get high, was there not a more obvious police presence so that matters could have been kept under control before getting totally out of hand. (Here I must state that I’m not a lover of any state’s police forces but even under capitalist rules they are there to do a job. When they fall down on that job they should be held to account.)

Why did they send a bus which could have its windows broken, even those on the top deck, by someone just throwing a stone from street level? I thought windscreens and modern day vehicle windows were of toughened, shatter-proof glass yet the windows seemed to have been broken easily. (I’ve seen films where even an angry giant armed with a sledge hammer has barely made a dent in the glass.)

Added to that the bus was moving quite fast at the time. If the persons (as there must have been at least 4 or 5 broken windows on both levels of the double decker bus) who threw the stones that were so effective in breaking the windows of the bus are ever found they should be trained in some sort of throwing sport as they must have produced Olympic world record breaking examples of strength to have achieved what they did.

Why did officers of the Prefectura, the Naval police (if I understand it correctly) just fire a random burst of tear gas from a moving van at the River Plate supporters in the vicinity of the attack? They seemed to have disappeared from the scene as I wasn’t aware of them appearing on the TV screen in the couple of hours I was following the unfolding of the events. In fact the first, and only time, I have seen this burst of tear gas come from a speeding vehicle was when I had the opportunity to see the video posted on the BBC website on the Sunday morning. And this is after watching the same scenes from the attack and its consequences being repeated ad nauseum on the couple of channels that were flicked through in the bar. Surely, this might be something that conspiracy theorists should be looking into?

It was the effects of this gas that was being highlighted in the early reports from the Boca Juniors dressing room in the El Monumental stadium. Pictures of the team and the officials arriving had them looking dizzy and some of them trying not to vomit – classic effects of a tear gas attack. It wasn’t till much later that reports of actual physical injury caused by flying glass started to appear on the screen. At the same time the importance of the tear gas and the effects it was having on the players was what has been played down in the reports I’ve seen on the BBC English news website.

As the afternoon drew on it was obvious that images were being sent into the news stations by members of the public who were at the scene of the attack and the confrontation between ‘los hinchas’ and the police.

For a short time there was the definite chance that a major confrontation was about to develop between the River Plate fans and the police. A small contingent of police in riot gear were the target of stone throwers and they seemed to be more interested in protecting themselves than confronting the opposition And this made sense, at least at the beginning.

The live images on the TV were taken from a high vantage point and here it was clear that there couldn’t have been more than about 30 or so police all geared up in their protective clothing. However, as the afternoon wore on images started to come through from either videos produced on Smartphones or from film crews sent in to cover the action. There the same story, told from the side of the stone throwers told a very different story.

The early images showed police doing the minimum, the later images seemed to present them in a much more threatening and aggressive manner. Who said the ‘camera never lies’? When we all should know that the camera never tells the truth.

And whilst these images were being shown on the screen it was the authorities who were being criticised by the people in the bar. Too few police, no preparation for such a major and emotional event, inadequate response to a situation that could go in any direction. If the situation didn’t get totally out of hand then it was due, to my mind, to the fact that the River Plate fans didn’t want it to. Pictures showed some of them passing through police lines and out of the ‘front line’.

One image, that appeared for only a short time was of a crew of 4 or 5 police officers, this time not in full riot gear, get out of a vehicle and point what looked like tear gas guns at the crowd. I don’t think any were fired and the police were only out of their vehicle for a short time so don’t know if someone told them to clear out. Firing more tear gas would have almost certainly have escalated the situation.

Now a look at the response from the football authorities themselves. If the police and government authorities didn’t have a clue what they were doing those in charge of Argentinian and world football were even more in disarray.

Their aim, as it soon became evident, was that the show must go on – at any cost. Not to the players, not to the spectators in the stadium, not to the those watching at home (whether that be in Buenos Aires or anywhere else in the world). No the show must go on because of TV rights – which we all know is what is most important in world football today.

This didn’t appear on the screen that I could see, amongst a number of quotes from those officials that were flashed up from time to time. However, this crucial matter was mentioned in a quote from the BBC report of the following morning where the Boca Juniors President is quoted as saying that making a decision on what to do was effected by ‘the television rights have been sold to a ton of countries.’

With that as their priority there was a refusal on the part of the football ‘authorities’ to accept that in no way was the game going to take place. Instead of looking at a way to force play (when it became increasingly obvious that there were injuries, if only temporary, to a number of the Boca players and that they wouldn’t have realistically been ‘match fit’, when statements were coming out from both the teams that they didn’t want to play, and even a casual observer such as myself could see it wouldn’t work on a whole lot of levels) those in charge of football should have been looking at how to get 60,000 people out of the stadium with the least danger to all concerned.

Reports that appeared the next day from those inside the stadium indicate that there was no sharing of information with that crowd of 60,000 people. That’s bad enough when they had been there in the hot sun (the temperatures in Buenos Aires that afternoon were in the mid 20s Celsius) for hours but in the age of social media what wasn’t been told directly to those fans was being drip fed to them from friends and family on the outside. It’s a good job there were no Boca fans in the stadium as in such a situation the whole affair would have turned into a massacre. (When I was looking at the TV screen I wondered why the pictures of the crowd only showed the red and white of the River Plate fans (as opposed to the blue and yellow of Boca) – that was whewn I didn’t know about the ban on away fans. Isn’t that a disgraceful comment in its own right on the state of world football?

I can’t imagine the situation in the stadium itself. The fans there stadium were effectively locked in. Those fans who had arrived after the ‘incidente’ with tickets were effectively locked out. And everyone was being kept in the dark as the question of the least expensive solution (to the football authorities and fat cats who cream millions off the ordinary fans) was being considered.

What started out as a gross miscalculation was starting to turn into a potential disaster. The fact that it didn’t was more due to luck than design.

Using my vox poular approach the whole process indicated that Argentina was ‘a shit country’, if such a situation had developed at the Casa Rosada ‘it wouldn’t have happened and ‘it’s impossible’. (I’ll come back to this approach to the Casa Rosada later on as on the only occasion I’ve been there I saw anti-demonstrator barriers which are on permanent standby.)

And to show how the relationship between the governing body had broken down the Boca management refused entry of Conmebol to their dressing room, reported on the TV screen at 18.20.

For the next few hours nothing was definitively agreed.

So we arrive at Sunday morning.

Basically nothing had been learnt from the events of the Saturday as sometime in the late morning it was decided that the match would go ahead at 17.00 on Sunday the 25th. Doubts began to be expressed on the TV, almost immediately, that this was still pushing it and with representations from the Boca Juniors club, who were producing a report to present to Conmebol, with them claiming they would have been at a disadvantage if the game was to be played so soon after the tear gassing and, we have to accept, not a little bit of shock when some of the team must have thought they were going to die, the game was again cancelled – this time with no alternative date being suggested.

As of now (the evening of Sunday 25th November 2018) there will be a meeting of Conmebol on Tuesday 27th November 2018 in Asunción, Uruguay. I don’t know if it was just a joke but one of the headlines stated that the second part of the final would take place in Abu Dhubai.

What also appeared on the TV screen on the Sunday afternoon were images of small confrontations between riot police and River Plate supporters. As is always the case in such situations the low deployment of police when it could have possibly prevented the ‘incidente’ is followed by an overwhelming police presence, under the pretext that this is to prevent matters getting out of hand.

But what is not being taken into account is the fact that there are a lot of fans, on both sides, who are pissed off with what happened yesterday, it’s a Sunday and so even those ‘lucky’ enough to have jobs may not be working, it’s still hot out there (mid to high 20s Celcius – the same as yesterday), the beer is flowing so it would only take a small spark to set things off.

If that happens I will write again about football. If it doesn’t then I will never write about football again in my life.

To sign off, do people remember the war that was ’caused’ by a football match? This was what came to be known as The Football War (La guerra del fútbol) and which lasted a 100 hours. This brief war was fought between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. Existing tensions between the two countries coincided with rioting during a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier and things got out of hand.

So Shankley might have been right when he said that football is more important than life or death.

As a ps (which addressers the idea of who controls football and the whole idea of sponsorship) both teams have their shirts (the body) sponsored by the Spanish Bank BBVA.

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