Enterreno Chile – Estadio Sausalito in the 1940s

I recently came across Enterreno Chile, an ever-expanding, user-submitted archive of photographs of Chile. There are entries for all tastes, including a solid collection of football-related images.

The photograph below is of the Estadio Sausalito, perched on the edge of the Laguna Sausalito in Viña del Mar. It was taken in the 1940s. Since then, the stadium has twice been rebuilt following earthquake damage: first, in the build up to the 1962 World Cup following the Valdivia earthquake of 1960; secondly, following the 2010 earthquake that took more than 500 lives.


At the 1962 World Cup, the stadium played host to eight matches, including the quarter-final between Brazil and England.

The current football archive at Enterreno Chile also includes images of matches from the 1962 World Cup, the 1945 and 1951 Clásicos between Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica, and of the Estadio Nacional in Santiago during various eras. Check it out here: https://www.enterreno.com/moments/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=futbol


Book Review: Idols and Underdogs

Despite its status as the dominant sport in South America, football has traditionally been considered unworthy of serious intellectual treatment by many of the continent’s prominent thinkers. The tide does, however, slowly seem to be turning and in Idols and Underdogs (Freight Books, 2016), Shawn Stein and Nicolás Campisi have collected 11 contemporary short stories from the region that take football as their primary plot point.

The two standout entries are those from Sérgio Sant’Anna (Brazil) and Carlos Abin (Uruguay). Sant’Anna (further reading: The Extra Flight) uses the thought-train of a down-on-his-luck coach as a vehicle to expound his own football philosophy in the engaging In the Mouth of the Tunnel, while Abin’s The Final Penalty is a neat story of lives that intersect through football and a rumination on the tales we tell of childhood involvement in the game.

There is merit also in Edmundo Paz Soldán’s frantic retelling from ever-shifting perspectives of a murder on the pitch, in Juan Villoro’s story of a retired player who takes on an impossible coaching job in an isolated oil boom town and in Sergio Galarza’s tale of a boy from a conservative family seeking social acceptance through football.

But there are missteps too. Selva Almada’s exploration of the way in which women support the game never really finds its rhythm, while Football Inc. by Javier Viveros takes its time to reach coherence following a befuddling opening. As can often be the case in sports fiction, some of the on-field scenes struggle to engender emotional investment in their outcome.

The quality of the translation also varies. There are some fine passages but others that read a little awkwardly. Most jarringly for a book focused on football, some of the translations seem to display a lack of knowledge of the sport’s parlance. Goals are “made” instead of scored, a team is said to have scored “lots of ties” instead of lots of equalisers and a corner kick is referred to as a “corner shot”. A more thorough eye (or perhaps a bigger budget) could have yielded a better end product.

The stories are accompanied by author interviews that provide interesting, if brief, insights into how football is viewed at a cultural and societal level in each of the continent’s countries and the ways in which football and politics regularly intersect. But they too feel like somewhat of a missed opportunity, reading more as question-and-answer exercises than genuine conversations.

Idols and Underdogs serves as proof of football’s ability to carry a fictional narrative and provide a platform through which to explore societal issues, and those behind its publication should certainly be commended for adding something new to the literary gamut given that the majority of these authors have never before been translated into English. It is a worthwhile and at times engaging and enlightening read but one that struggles to achieve the consistency required for a title-winning effort.

The Surprising Subtlety of Claudio Borghi

With his pit-bull build and current employment as a grumpy and bitter television pundit, it is perhaps easy to overlook just how smooth and subtle a player Claudio Borghi was in his time.

Indeed, his standout performance for Argentinos Juniors against Juventus in the 1985 Intercontinental Cup final even briefly saw him touted as a future world star.

That never came to pass, but in the later years of his career, at various Chilean clubs, he produced a series of exquisite goals and assists, among them some wonderfully laconic lobs, that underlined his talent and inventiveness.

03:13 and 04:26 are particular favourites.

Have a Nose Around Some South American Stadiums on Google Street View

This came to my attention through Danny Last (@dannylast) on Twitter.

I’ve tried it out on a few other South American stadiums with similarly good results:

Why not give it a go.

Can MLS Become a Bridge Between South America and Europe?

This seems to be a topic of interest right now. At time of writing, 22 South American players have signed on with Major League Soccer teams ahead of its 2018 season.

The large majority of those players are aged between 18 and 22, and the assumption seems to be that by signing up talented youngsters, MLS can become a bridge between South America and Europe.

I was thinking about this topic while writing a feature on new Atlanta United signing Ezequiel Barco for Soccer 360. Personally, I’m not convinced. Here are a couple of tweets I published last week:

This debate is not a new one. Similar things were said when there was a large influx of Colombian players into MLS following the success of Fredy Montero at Seattle Sounders.

Indeed, I wrote about that very issue for the now sadly defunct XI Quarterly back in 2013. It was my first attempt at a long-form article and benefited greatly from the patient help of my editors, David Keyes and Tom Dunmore, to wrestle some form of coherence from an overload of information and quotes.

Looking back on it now, it includes some of my pet peeves as a reader of long form (including quoted characters who appear randomly across various sections), but its central point remains relevant:

“The perceived financial and social stability available in the United States will continue to attract players aged between 25 and 30 for whom moves to Europe are improbable, but younger players have greater reason to pause before accepting moves to MLS. The league is growing in stature, yet needs to offer a clearer route to Europe and a better platform for call-ups to the national team if it hopes to continue attracting young talent.”

‘El Cholo’ – Hugo Sotil on the Big Screen

“You think art, hard work and sport cannot coexist? That is el cholo.”

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In 1972, Peruvian director and producer Bernardo Batievsky decided to make a film about the still relatively nascent career of Hugo Sotil. It was entitled ‘El Cholo’.

It is far from a cinematic masterpiece (and the quality of the one upload of the film on Youtube is far from great), but its 87 minutes pass by easily enough. There is some nice scenery, neat hippie vibes and the amusingly unsubtle imagery of an arty Sotil painting circle after circle after circle yet wondering where his true love lies (a clue: its football).

Sotil later admitted that he felt nervous and uncomfortable throughout the filming process, but he still returned to the big screen in 2016 to play a small part in Calichín, a Peruvian comedy starring Aldo Miyashiro.

He still wasn’t convinced: “I’m only good at football, not cinema.”