The Football Crónicas| 01 April, 2015
The crónica is something of an art form in Latin America and a great way for writers to bridge the gap between journalism and spinning a good yarn. Crónicas are based on real events, but allow the writer the freedom to be creative, to be evocative, to elucidate, go off on tangents if need be. If Hunter S. Thompson had been Latin American he would have been a cronista. Though this form has been around for a long time there is currently a wave of new writers putting their own stamp on it. This was documented quite brilliantly in a Spanish-language book Antología De Crónica Latinoamericana Actual that was released in 2012, as well as this English-language title.
The Football Crónicas features 11 crónicas, alongside three fictional works and a book extract, all of which have been written by some of Latin America’s most interesting new writers. They offer passionate and unaffected insight into, primarily, football in Latin America, but also the Latin American way of life.
Marco Avilés’ The Goal-Begetting Women Of The Andes is a fascinating story of the Andean women who make up the Churubamba football team, their surprising commitment to the sport and their upcoming game against another local team with the grand prize of a new team strip. Hernán Iglesias Illa moves away from the continent, at least geographically-speaking, with his fascinating piece about the team of Latinos he captains in New York and their struggles in a local league full of expats, complete with arguments about whether the fixture list should be online, who pays the player’s taxi fares if a game is cancelled and what should happen if a player spits on an opponent. Beside Pablo Corso’s piece on the Campanas prison football team “The Pioneros” – the first prison team to play in the Argentine Football Association – and Alberto Salcedo Ramos’ character-filled account of “Las Regias” (The Queens), an all-transvestite Colombian football team, these are articles as much about the marginalised and vulnerable people of Latin America – and its diaspora – as football itself.
Of course, there are plenty of stories for the football heads, with articles focusing on legendary Uruguayan footballer Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia – the man who scored the winning goal against Brazil in the 1950 World Cup Final – , about Romário’s metamorphosis from badly-behaved goal machine to political candidate and about River Plate’s football hooligans, but again, behind each of these famous teams/players there is a social or political message. The fictional pieces that conclude the book are less successful, feeling distant compared to the intimate first-person pieces that come before them, but that still leaves you with 11 largely-gripping crónicas to read.
Whether you’re into football, social issues, marginalised populations or Latin America, The Football Crónicas is well worth a read. It’s a book that goes beyond its notional subject of football to become an enlightening read on Latin Americans life.
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