Pablo Alabarces, Argentinian academy teacher (University of Buenos Aires) specialized in Popular and Mass Culture. He wrote, among others, Football and Patria (2008) Chronicles of aguante and Football, violence and politics (2012).
Do you think Italian soccer has lost its charm after the glory days of Maradona, Platini and Zico in the 80s? What is the European league that you deem more interesting nowadays?
I think so. Italian soccer has lost its charm and attractiveness. For example, the best footballers play in other leagues and its teams aren't great anymore. It gains global attention more for cases like violence or corruption, than for great victories and triumphs (like Maradona's Naples, for example). The Spanish Liga , on the other hand, stands out for other reasons: an unforgettable team like Messi's Barcelona or the multimillionaire Real Madrid that have money to burn: but they don't have much to offer. Personally, I prefer and I give attention to Premier League also because more than just two teams fight for the title.
What's the most-followed league among Argentinians? And why?
I think it's the Spanish one, but I don't have the numbers. Simply because of Messi, but also because many Argentineans play in Liga. Although I don't know if there are more than in Italy, counting Inter and Catania.
You often hear people saying that South American players need to play in European leagues to really prove that they are stars. Do you think this is some sort of “Eurocentrism” or the European stage is still a necessary stepping stone for foreign players to prove themselves?
Yes, it's Eurocentrism, of course. But it's also true: the football players who don't have European experience, we call them "jugadores de cabotaje" (players of domestic flight). But it's an imaginary evaluation. The reality is that playing in in Europe means to earn an higher salary and guarantee the future of two generations of family relatives.
In Europe some big clubs are controlled by foreign investors. Do you think that some of these big tycoons and investors could start expanding their conquers to South America?
No, I don't think so. They invest because they do good business, except those who do it to launder money. South America isn't a good market to earn money with football. Here, you can form and sell players, which is a long-term investment.
In Italy football is often tied to economic and political power (Berlusconi's Milan, Agnelli's Juventus), as a consequence, every issue in soccer turns into a political one. Do you think this happens in Argentinean soccer as well?
Of course, even though it's not because of the relationship with characters of that kind, but for a wider relationship with the political world. Only Mauricio Macri, ex President of Boca Juniors, is similar to Berlusconi but he doesn't get to his level. But the interference of political leaders in football clubs, especially in the smallest ones, is enormous. It is believed that everything that happens in soccer has a political effect: I don't think this is necessarily true, but leaders act like it was, and its appropriation by the state multiplied this effect.
Parochialism is something that is deeply ingrained in Italian culture, and fans sing chants against Naples, Milan, or Rome every Sunday: what do you think about this year's decision to disqualify the groups of fans that sing chants that are defined by the sporting judge as “territorial discrimination?”
It's a big and dangerous nonsense. It means to equalize the presumed territorial discrimination, which is nothing more than historical hatreds and traditional stereotypes, to real discriminations, which is sexual or ethnical ones. In these cases, we can see a relationship of power: among regions, however, there are symmetries or asymmetries that do not produce relations of superiority/inferiority between the real subjects. A Neapolitan can think Northern domination caused political effects, but he doesn't experience this dimension daily. The racist insult, on the other hand, is a daily experience and you must fight it. I think territorial hate, which as far as I know it's huge In Italy, can't be compared to a crime (as far as I know, it isn't). But ethnical discrimination is a crime in Brazil, and in Italy. In Argentina, too. But nobody punishes it...
Thanks to our reviewer Lorenzo Franceschi Bicchierai
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