The Beautiful Game is even more beautiful when Eduardo Galeano is writing about it. Better known for his political works, Galeano endears himself to me through his fabulous football book ‘Soccer in Sun and Shadow’. It’s perfect subway reading with each piece rarely longer than two pages and covering some of the most magical and momentous events in the sport from the beginning of the twentieth century to 1994 world cup in America.
For Galeano football is a triumph of the under dog over the oppressor. Players like Eusebio, Maradona or Garrincha come from grinding poverty and overcome their misfortune with their otherworldly gifts.
When they score or produce some fabulous piece of skill it’s as if they are speaking for every down trodden mass in the world.
Ranged against them are the forces of profit: the football associations and corrupt chairmen who see football as nothing more than a source of money and power.
Slowly these dark forces are winning, producing more and more boring matches and more and more sterilized environments to play them but every now and again a Neymar, a Ronaldo or a Messi is produced to remind us of why we liked the game in the first place.