Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of spectators.
At Wembley, shouts from the 1966 World Cup, which England won, still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953 when England fell to the Hungarians. Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium sighs with nostalgia for the glory days of Uruguayan soccer. Maracanã is still crying over Brazil’s 1950 World Cup defeat. At Bombonera in Buenos Aires, drums boom from half a century ago. From the depths of Azteca Stadium, you can hear the ceremonial chants of the ancient Mexican ball game. The concrete terraces of Camp Nou in Barcelona speak Catalan, and the stands of San Mamés in Bilbao talk in Basque. In Milan, the ghosts of Giuseppe Meazza scores goals that shake the stadium bearing his name. The final match of the 1974 World Cup, won by Germany, is played day after day and night after night at Munich’s Olympic Stadium. King Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, but it has no memory or much of anything to say.”
“Han pasado los años, y a la larga he terminado por asumir mi identidad: yo no soy más que un mendigo de buen fútbol. Voy por el mundo sombrero en mano, y en los estadios suplico: una linda jugadita, por amor de Dios. Y cuando el buen fútbol ocurre, agradezco el milagro sin que me importe un rábano cuál es el club o el país que me lo ofrece.”
“La violencia, decía Valdano, crece en proporción directa a las injusticias sociales y a las frustraciones que la gente acumula en su vida cotidiana.”
“Whoever believes physical size and tests of speed or strength have anything to do with a soccer player's prowess is sorely mistaken. Just as mistaken as those who believe that IQ tests have anything to do with talent or that there is a relationship between penis size and sexual pleasure. Good soccer players need not to be titans sculpted by Michelangelo. In soccer, ability is much more important than shape, and in many cases skill is the art of turning limitations into virtues.”
“و كان لدى الرب وقت ليهتم بشئون كرة القدم، فكم من مسئوليها سيبقون أحياءً”
“The goal is soccer's orgasm. And like orgasms, goals have become an ever less frequent occurrence in modern life.”
“[Garrincha] was the one who would climb out of the training camp window because he heard from some far-off back alley call of a ball asking to be played with, music demanding to be danced to, a woman wanting to be kissed.”
“An astonishing void: official history ignores soccer. Contemporary history texts fail to mention it, even in passing, in countries where soccer has been and continues to be a primordial symbol of collective identity. I play therefore I am: a style of play is a way of being that reveals the unique profile of each community and affirms its right to be different. Tell me how you play and I’ll tell you who you are. For many years soccer has been played in different styles, unique expressions of the personality of each people, and the preservation of that diversity seems to me more necessary today than ever before. These are days of obligatory uniformity, in soccer and everything else. Never has the world been so unequal in the opportunities it offers and so equalizing in the habits it imposes: in this end of century world, whoever does not die of hunger dies of boredom.”
“All that exists is the temple. In this sacred place, the only religion without atheists puts its divinities on display.”
“¿En cuánto se cotizaba el voto internacional de un país? Haití vendía su voto a cambio de quince millones de dólares, una carretera, una represa y un hospital y así otorgaba a la OEA la mayoría necesaria para expulsar a Cuba, la oveja negra del panamericanismo.”
“Sometimes the idol does not fall all at once. And sometimes when he breaks, people devour the pieces.”
“As a fan I also left a lot to be desired. Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Julio César Abbadie played for Peñarol, the enemy team. I was a loyal Nacional fan and I did everything I could to hate them. But with his masterful passes “El Pepe” Schiaffino orchestrated the team’s plays as if he were watching from the highest tower of the stadium, and “El Pardo” Abbadie, running in his seven-league boots, would slide the ball all the way down the white touchline, swaying back and forth without ever grazing the ball or his opponents. I couldn’t help admiring them, and I even felt like cheering. Years have gone by and I’ve finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: “A pretty move, for the love of God.”
“The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty.”
“Whether a shared celebration or a shipwreck that takes us all down, soccer counts in Latin America, sometimes more than anything else, even if the ideologues who love humanity but can’t stand people don’t realize it.”
“منذ اولمبياد العام 1936 التي نظمها هتلر كان الرياضيون الفائزون ينتعلون احذية تظهر عليها خطوط ماركة اديداس الثلاثة. و في بطولة العلم بكرة القدم عام 1990 كانت خطوط اديداس تظهر على الاحذيو و على كل شيء اخر. و قد لاحظ صحفيان انجليزيان هما سيمسون و جينينغس ان الشيء الوحيد الذي لم يكن للشركة في المباراة النهائية بين المانيا و الارجنتين هو صافرة الحكم. و قد كانت الكرة و كل ما يغطي اجساد اللاعبين و الحكم و حكام التماس من ماركة اديداس”
“¿En qué se parece el fútbol a Dios? En la devoción que le tienen muchos creyentes y en la desconfianza que le tienen muchos intelectuales”
“Sir," replied the commander, "I am nothing to you but Captain Nemo; and you and your companions are nothing to me but the passengers of the Nautilus.”
“Where would you like to go, what would you really like to do with your life?
See Istanbul, Port Said, Nairobi, Budapest. Write a book. Smoke too many cigarettes. Fall off a cliff but get caught in a tree halfway down. Get shot at a few times in a dark alley on a Morrocan midnight. Love a beautiful woman.”
“I told her why we are here. I told you wouldn't hurt Jack."
I smiled. I couldn't help it. He was a 'jack in a box.”
“Maybe there was a magic stronger than spells. Maybe the soulmate principle was responsible, and if two people were meant to be together, nothing could keep them apart.”
“The books...they helped keep me from losing my mind altogether.”
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