Updated: May 1
Education is a transformative process. This means that as we grow and develop, we should be increasing our exposure and by extension, our awareness. Part of this process involves how we receive and process information. As a young boy I had my introduction to football through the exploits of Pele and the amazing Brazilian aggregation. This interest increased while at Kingston College in these early 1970s years courtesy of the Manning Cup teams with Howard Bell, Derrick Denniser, the Murray brothers etc., I became hooked on football because of that exposure and South American football. Beckenbauer's German team with Gerd Mueller, squaring off against Holland in the finals of 1974 still remains fixed in my mind as one the World Cups most contentious finals.
Argentina in 1978 with Ossie Ardiles and Mario Kempes provided an additional prism to enjoy the South American game. Both Ardiles and Kempes played for Tottenham after the 78 World Cup which pulled me into watching Premier League football during the period. At the time I was working at Tom Redcam Library in Kingston. Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books and with my eyes opened by the atrocities of the South African Apartheid system which had been seared into my consciousness by the shooting deaths of hundreds of school kids by the South African police. Their crime-demonstrating against the SA government’s edict that Afrikaans would be the language of instruction in schools instead of their respective tribal tongues.
South Africa’s Apartheid and similar issues in Rhodesia plus other exposed Race-driven issues in England and the USA caused me to dive into the subject even deeper. That was the first time that I learned of Argentina’s genocidal and racial cleansing practices. I learned too that at the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of Germans including dozens of Nazi Officers and officials such as Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichman, had fled to Argentina which was being led at the time by fascist dictator Juan Peron, to escape any potential recriminations for their participation in exterminating Jews, Gypsies, and Black people in Nazi occupied Germany and other conquered spaces in Europe while the war was being waged. Argentina had no extradition treaties with post-war investigating countries and as a result, these murderous criminals largely got away with mass-murder.
Let me be clear, it was football that brought Argentina into my orbit. Eight years later Argentina won the World Cup with the indefatigable Diego Maradonna, but by that time the lack of colour in the Argentine team had me taking a closer look. It was then that the facts of history caused me to take a more personal look as a Black man and not just as a football fan. I then realized that every time that this Argentine side runs on a football field it serves as advertisement of the country's success at Racial and ethnic cleansing.
Despite the global issue of Racism. Argentina is the only country in the world to have deliberately pursued and succeeded at racial cleansing, - ridding their country of its Black population. It ought to affect one’s sensibilities that the Argentine Black population at the end of Slavery in 1831 stood at 37% and by those deliberate efforts now stands at less than 2%. Today, no Black person in Argentina occupies any visible position in business/commerce, politics, social activities including sports.
This knowledge makes me wonder just how any Jamaican or any Black person for that matter could support this team without recognizing that they are supporting a country that practices this kind of Racial cleansing is beyond my comprehension.