This week to open up corruption in South America I did some investigating on some of the biggest, most powerful, and well known officials and leaders in soccer. I came across a man named Julio Grondona, the late former president of soccer in Argentina. Grondona died in 2011, marked as a sad day in Argentinian soccer across the world. Two of the most recognizable Argentinian world soccer stars of all time, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, spoke about the greatness of Grondona for Argentinian soccer’s growth and well being, as well as wishing his family and friends well in their time of mourning. Even while he was celebrated in death by his countrymen, many people around world soccer could not help note the shadiness of his reign as Argentinian soccer president for nine terms in a row unopposed. His term was marred by rumors and allegations of corruption and money laundering. In celebrating and mourning his life and death, these allegations were brushed aside for the most part.
News surfaced very recently this past year with more detailed and revealing reports of Grondona pocketing up to fifteen million dollars of AFA(Associación de Futból Argentino) money. This was stolen through money made with televion rights for games, AFA propaganda such as jerseys, and deals with the government and other soccer associations across the world. Many people suspected him of such activity, partly due to his 9 term, 35 year long tenure at the helm of Argintean soccer. One piece of information Prof. Dan brought to my attention after I read these articles about Grondona was the 1978 World Cup and it’s controversy.
Held in Argentina two years after the military coup and onset of of the Guerra Sucia (Dirty War), there was initial controversy over whether or not teams should participate in the tournament. Eventually everyone who qualified participated. However cries of the Argentinian government and AFA’s corruption were once again thrust out when in the final qualifying game of the group stage, Argentina needed to beat Peru by a margin of at least four goals. This would need to be a grand feat due to Peru winning their first round group as well as drawing eventual runners up Holland, 0-0. Peru was not a weak side, yet the scoreline did not reflect that in the slightest. Argentina won 6-0, sending them to the World Cup finals on their home turf, which they went on to win over Holland, 3-1. Many people thought Argentina bought that victory, partly due to money already being in question and loaned between Peru and Argentina, using central banks of each country. Grondona was elected president immediately following his predecessor Hurucán David Bracuto’s, resignation following the World Cup. While still unconfirmed, the reports of Grondona’s other corrupt activity in the AFA make this hard to ignore.
This epidemic of corruption in South American government’s is something we studied in Spanish 5/6 last year, so I am familiar with the Dirty War of Argentina as well as many other wars and dictatorships across the 20th century. Because of the far more mysterious nature of soccer corruption pre 1970’s, I am going to use my knowledge of government corruption during that time to try to possibly find some conspiracy theories or ideas connecting government corruption to soccer corruption. Prof. Dan and I have agreed upon making this the topic of my next research paper. Using all of the information of cultural identity in Spain and ideas from my first paper, as well as the information in this upcoming paper, I will begin to work on my final project paper once we return from break.