Wednesday, January 05, 2005

the support structure

Some interesting stuff about South American footballers in an article on the BBC SPORT website today, which notes that it has often been the case that, where Brazilian and Argentinian players have been successful in England (as in the case of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa), they have arrived in (mutually supportive) pairs. It paints the arrival of the solitary South American in leafy, grey Chigwell as a rather sorry and bemusing picture. Conversely, the German league boasts 38 settled and influential South American players.

"If South Americans can adapt to life on and off the pitch in Germany, then surely they can do the same in England. So why aren't they?

Perhaps part of the explanation lies in an interview Hernan Crespo gave to the Argentine press soon after he joined Chelsea.

"I have to go to the bakers, I have to go shopping, the electrician is coming round, I have to get the car serviced, and for all these things I have to go and speak in English.

"They might seem silly little things, but in reality it's not so easy. We're latins, and all through our lives we're used to someone giving us a hand. But that's not the anglo-saxon way. The cultures are different."

The English take notions of personal independence for granted. But the South Americans tend to be much more dependent.

In many cases they lack self-esteem, and can be terrified by some of the situations Crespo described above.

Juan Pablo Angel was bemused by the lack of support he received from Aston Villa when his wife fell ill.

Agustin Delgado never felt at home at Southampton. It is hard to escape the conclusion that English clubs have not done enough to help their South American acquisitions find their feet off the field."

This is interesting stuff, but I'm not quite sure what it means. Does it mean that these footballers are just used to being treated like children by their clubs and are horrified that they are not 'looked after' at all times, or is the suggestion that there is genuinely a cultural attitude towards independence which divides the 'latin' from the 'anglo-saxon'? I'm not asking rhetorical questions, I'm just being ignorant, and wondering if anyone knows anything else about this? In part I wonder if we're not just reading about men who are used to being protected by their families - wives and mothers, in other words.

1 comment:

Pete Ashton said...

I'm guessing it's a community thing, whereby common tasks are shared by what we could call random strangers for the cumulative benefit of all.

Which of course makes no sense whatsoever to NIMBYist, post-Thatcherite Daily Mail reading Britain. ;)

You do find that kind of behaviour over here but it's usually within subcultures - bikers, for example, and to a certain extent bloggers. Rural and farming communities too, in fact anywhere where there are enough people to make a difference but not too many that you don't know everyone by 2 or 3 degrees.

It could be your footballer has been molly-coddled, but that might be because his sporting skills are valued as a contribution to society equal to helping fix a car or buying food.

Interesting, though...