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US Embassy Video on Boca-River Súperclásico

January 18th, 2013 | 09:07 PM

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The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires put out this video ahead of this Sunday’s “Súperclásico” soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate.

What do you think of the video?

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Tears Flow as River Plate Loses, Drops to B League

June 26th, 2011 | 08:33 PM

Countless thousands of Argentines stood in total disbelief Sunday as one of the country’s greatest soccer clubs lost a key game and dropped out of the nation’s top soccer league.

Club Atlético River Plate did what almost nobody expected. It played so poorly this season it lost its spot in the league and will be forced to play  next season in the “Nacional B” minor league.

To put River’s misery into context, this has never happened in the club’s 110-year history.

River’s loss was a catastrophic blow to the hearts of passionate River fans.

Página 12 journalist and River loyalist Fernando Krakowiak described it this way via Twitter:

“I feel as if a loved one died and I don’t need anyone coming to tell me how I should be feeling about it.”

Before the game, Krakowiak had said he was an atheist but that he was praying for River.

“This represents a before and after in the history of Argentine soccer,” said Alejandro Fantino, a television sports analyst who hosts the popular Show del Fútbol.

By Sunday night pundits and talking heads were already debating the political ramifications of the game and violence that ensued afterwards. One policeman was reportedly killed in incidents following the game.

Fans trashed the Monumental stadium while in some cases hapless police stood-by.

Should fans have been allowed into the stadium to watch the game? Should the government have sent in more police? How could River have sunk so lo so fast? Does the club have millions of dollars or millions in debt? Where is its money? Should the club’s president quit or be fired?

The government, which owns the broadcast rights to major-league soccer games through its Futbol para Todos program, doesn’t have the right to broadcast Nacional B games. Could this benefit Grupo Clarin and its sports channel TyC Sports, which can broadcast the games? Will the government tolerate this?

Maybe it was all a conspiracy from the beginning to help Clarin, one of the government’s top enemies?

These are just some of the questions people are asking about River’s historic loss. The debate has only just begun.

*Photo from Télam

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The San Antonio Spurs: A Pilgrimage

May 15th, 2011 | 01:50 PM

An Argentine fan describes his first trip to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, and how he found much more than he was hoping for.

By Fernando Santillan

I’ll admit it right off the bat: I am a “new fan” of the Spurs, of basketball and of Manu Ginobili. Maybe that partly explains the 10-hour plane ride and 4-hour car ride I made to watch them play live: that kind of pilgrimage requires the faith of the recently converted. In any case, the much-anticipated trip proved to be so much more than what I expected that I decided to write about it, especially after reading this post by “SgtinManusArmy” at a Spurs fan blog called “Pounding the Rock.”

The Birth of a Fan

Born in soccer-crazed Argentina, I have been a soccer fan my whole life. Some of my happiest boyhood memories involve pestering my father to take me to games on Sundays to see Ricardo Bochini and the great 1980’s Independiente teams. Years later, I started watching some NBA basketball in my teens, rooting mainly for Patrick Ewing and the Knicks and always against Michael Jordan’s Bulls.

The year 2002 was one of crisis and rebirth. The 2002 soccer World Cup, held in Japan and Korea, was a disaster for the Argentine team. For me, it was more than that – it was a crisis of faith. The Argentine team, my team, the team that played soccer the way I believed the game should be played, was unable to make it past the first round. Since then, I have been less and less captivated by the game.

That same year, the Argentine basketball team at the FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis became the first team in history to beat a US team with NBA players. Argentina finished second. Starring on that team was a skinny guy from Bahía Blanca who would make his debut in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs later in 2002, and who would play a significant role in the 2002-2003 NBA title run. A new faith helped me find a new road, and I learned the game of basketball watching Gregg Popovich’s Spurs and Rubén Magnano’s Argentine national teams. These are teams that were, and still are, all about “playing the right way.” And they’re teams that get rewarded for doing it.

So I’ve been watching and learning and enjoying basketball since 2002. The gods of basketball have blessed my change of faith: my national team placed second in the 2002 World Championships, fourth in 2006 and fifth in 2010. They were Olympic champions in 2004 and won the bronze in 2008.

Meanwhile, my Spurs were champs in 2003, 2005 and 2007. What sacrifice had I made for these gods? Not much more than watching late games ending at about 1 or 2 am local time (even while already sleep-deprived because of the birth of my two beautiful daughters during this period). I also followed games on play-by-play text threads on nba.com. But I thought a bigger sacrifice was called for, and that’s how the idea of doing a pilgrimage came to mind. (more…)

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Argentina’s World Cup Loss and the Kirchners’ Future

July 4th, 2010 | 08:28 AM

A good deal will be written in the coming days about Argentina’s crushing World Cup defeat and its political significance for Argentine President Cristina Fernández and her husband, former president Néstor Kirchner.

Both are considered serious contenders for the next presidential election in late 2011.

Before Saturday’s shock defeat in South Africa, local media had published a veritable avalanche of articles about the World Cup and its influence on politics.

Foreign media outlets stepped in as well, with fun yet substantive articles like this one by friends at Bloomberg.

But just as the World Cup itself has been, Argentina’s political future is unpredictable.

Still, one things seems to be clear: the Kirchners are in trouble.

Despite years of exceptionally impressive economic growth and political stability, the First Couple remains highly unpopular.

Years of fierce political confrontation and aggressive, hostile rhetoric have left huge portions of the electorate with a bitter taste in their mouth. (more…)

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Manu Ginóbili Catches Bat During NBA Game

November 1st, 2009 | 08:44 AM

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NBA star and Argentine sports hero Emanuel “Manu” Ginóbili proved once again to be an amazing athlete Saturday. During an NBA game a bat started to fly around inside the arena, distracting fans and players alike. Ginóbili smacked the bat with his own hand, picked it up off the ground, and turned the creature over to a security official. He’s not only an NBA legend, but now Ginóbili is a real life Batman!

“Now I know what to do when I retire,” Ginóbili said in a status update on his Facebook page. “I can be a bat hunter.”

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Argentina, Maradona Face Major Test in Paraguay

September 8th, 2009 | 07:00 PM

AFA Veron MaradonaBy Joel Richards

When the Argentine Football Association was hunting for a new national team coach ten months ago, Diego Maradona’s name was nowhere to be seen.

The albiceleste were on the back of a poor run of form with just one win from six World Cup qualifiers, and the team needed new ideas to put them back on track.

The old-school style of the gruff Alfio Basile, now the Boca Juniors coach, clashed with the young generation of millionaire superstars that returned from Europe to represent the country.

The names suggested as possible candidates to replace Basile varied in profile and status. Maradona didn’t fit into any of the categories – with virtually no experience in coaching, a controversial past and a rocky relationship with AFA president Julio Grondona, El Diez was never in contention. That is, until he himself threw his hat into the arena.

In a matter of days, the situation turned on its head and Maradona was presented as the new Argentina coach. It was an enormous risk for AFA to take, for several reasons, not least of which was the possibility that Maradona’s legend could be tarnished. (more…)

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In Wikipedia Wars, Boca Thrashes River

August 16th, 2009 | 08:00 AM

Boca River

Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia or “general reference work” in the history of humankind. With 13 million articles, it’s by far the largest single source of voluntarily compiled information in the known universe. It’s the best encyclopedia we’ve got. But it’s not always accurate.

Anyone with access to the site can edit its article. That means its entries can fall prey to foul play or just good old, innocuous mischief.

Often the most inaccurate articles are those whose content is most controversial. Good examples include articles whose subjects are passionately disputed like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or even Argentina’s Dirty War. In these cases, critics of one side or the other will login to Wikipedia and edit articles to reflect their particular point of view, often distorting the truth and altering the facts.Boca

But sometimes the distortions are more playful. On Friday night, while writing up a story about the the Kirchner government and soccer, a colleague of mine checked Wikipedia for information about Club Atlético River Plate, one of Argentina’s largest soccer clubs. Here’s what he found in Wikipedia’s article on River Plate:

“River Plate is the rival of the BEST team in Argentina, BOCA JUNIORS. River Plate are known to cry like little Bitches every time they lose. Their fans are also known as the most gay in Argentina. FUCK river, BOCA es lo mas grande que hay!!!”

I’ll leave it up to you to determine the veracity of that statement.

By Saturday afternoon the issue had become a moot point. Wikipedia’s article had already been edited back to normal.

But for a few moments at least on Friday, Boca was ahead, way ahead, thanks to a point scored by one of its fans on the virtual world’s field of truth.

Link: Wikipedia on River
Link: Wikipedia on Boca

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2010 Argentina Dakar Map Now Online

June 3rd, 2009 | 08:41 PM

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The Amaury Sport Organization, which organizes the 30-year-old Dakar off-road automobile race, has released details of the Dakar 2010 South American rally.

“The Dakar,” as it is known by fans, began in 1978 as a partially crazy off-road race from Paris to Dakar in Senegal, Africa. But, as Wikipedia notes, “due to political instability in Africa, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America, the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa.”

Last year the race took place in Argentina and Chile. In January the race, which is often dominated by French off-road specialists, had its first tragedy in Argentina after the French motorcycle fanatic Pascal Terry was found dead in the middle of the rally.

From the official Dakar site:

“The 2010 course, designed in an anti clockwise loop, will rapidly set to the north: the first act will value the competitors more suited to hard soil. After crossing the Andes, the stay of the rally in Chile will be mainly focused on a wide discovery of the Atacama Desert, with five sand stages, almost no liaisons and a journey all the way to the city of Iquique. The return trip towards the Argentinean capital will allow appreciating the diversity of mountains and territories of the continent: in this third act, the terrains offered will finish off testing the resistance of the competitors and the vehicles.”

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Bolivia Crushes Argentina In World Cup Qualifier

April 1st, 2009 | 09:10 PM

soccer-sad-guy“Every Goal Was Like A Stab In My Heart”

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By Dean Nicholas

It wasn't the worst defeat Argentina have ever suffered – they lost by the same scoreline to Yugoslavia in the 1960s. But the football team's astonishing 1-6 collapse against Bolivia in La Paz was a hugely embarrassing result, and has prompted fresh concern over the team's chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

After a 4-0 win over Venezuela on Saturday, a performance that Diego Maradona described as “perfect,” the coach decided to make some changes. Wary of the altitude – La Paz lies 3,600 metres above sea level – Maradona dropped one of three strikers he deployed on the weekend, and introduced an additional defender. The idea was to play a close, cautious game, conserving energy and relying on the skills of Messi and Tevez to spring Bolivia on the counterattack.

Things started off badly for the visitors, as Bolivia opened aggressively and scored after 11 minutes, but Argentina recovered 22 minutes later when Lucho González converted in unorthodox style, his low, weak shot squirming past the perplexed Bolivian keeper. An Argentine comeback seemed probable; what actually happened next was unprecedented.

Whether the altitude had already left the blue-and-white team punch-drunk or not, Bolivia suddenly found themselves up 3-1 through a Joaquín Botero penalty and a goal by Alex Da Rosa. The hosts were by far the better team, dominating their celebrated opponents with apparent ease and causing delirium in the stands. The expulsion of Argentine winger Angel Di María in the 63rd minute meant that it was soon a case of damage limitation.

(more…)

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Maradona To Debut In Argentina, Venezuela Matchup

March 27th, 2009 | 05:56 AM

soccer-jerseyLegendary soccer star Diego Maradona may have seen and done it all in the world of football. But the always entertaining sports supernova will make a big debut Saturday when he takes to the field as the coach of the national team.

Maradona’s coaching and management prowess will be on display for the first time as he leads the “selección” in a World Cup qualifying match against an inferior squad from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

The teams have met 15 times over the years and each time Argentina has won, scoring a total of 62 goals compared with just 8 for Venezuela.

Argentina is currently ranked third (behind Paraguay and Brazil) out of 10 South American teams trying to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The top four teams in each regional category qualify.

Tickets for the match, being played at River Stadium, are selling out quickly, though scalpers will surely have some available at the gate. The game starts at 7:10 pm local time.

“I want the River stadium to explode and for the players to be applauded,” Maradona said Thursday in comments to reporters. It’s a pretty good bet this is exactly what will happen.

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25th Anniversary Of Brutal Maradona Foul

September 24th, 2008 | 09:14 PM

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Twenty-five years ago today a brutal, intentional foul nearly changed the course of soccer history. The foul, which occurred in a game between the European clubs Barcelona and Athletico de Bilbao, and is shown in the above video, left Diego Maradona with a fractured left ankle. But it could have been worse. Maradona was operated on the same day, according to a Mundo Deportivo story commemorating the event. The operation was a success. Three years later Maradona – and the “Hand of God” – led Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup.

Link: BBC Timeline of Maradona’s Life

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The Wall Street Journal On Las Barras Bravas

September 22nd, 2008 | 09:24 PM

Wall Street Journal correspondent Matt Moffett had an excellent story in last week’s paper about one woman’s efforts to teach hooligans “how to play nice.” The story, which landed on the front page of the printed paper, got a bit lost amid all the chaos surrounding global financial turmoil. But in typical Moffett fashion, it’s a finely crafted and reported story and is well worth your time. You can check it out here.

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