From: (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Subject: These are the days 
Date: May 25, 1996

In 1986, Diego was riding, internally, the beast that is futbol apotheosis. 
You and I have felt this beast, in our lives, in those moments when we were 
true and central. When we were in love and our loved one sensed it, when we 
were right and our subject sensed it, when we said to the world at large 
"I get it" and it acknowledged it.

So it was with Him. Those of us that grew up in certain towns knew that 
there was a place for full, total imagination in futbol. Where every gambeta 
that you ever saw, that you ever conceived while lying awake at night, came 
true in all its glory at His feet. When you told your defender "go there" 
and he went there, and you jumped in the breach that he left. It was the 
time when you could take the planet, with its six billion anguished souls 
struggling with their pedestrian existence, and say "this is what happens 
when you grab reality and mold it according to the needs of your will".

Now, as I describe it, out of its context, out of the moment when it took 
place... it is a pale impression of what took place. You were probably 
fortunate enough to see it, so that you do not need to rely upon my words 
to know what happened--I am merely reminding you of something that you 

Here was a man that was born into dire poverty, that grew up being told 
every day that he was, as his parents, destined to slavery, destined to be 
nothing, destined to have his opinions ignored and his desires frustrated.

He overcame all that with nothing but his talent, his perseverance, and yes, 
with our support. Those of us that said "I care about futbol", in our own 
way, stood up for this Mozart of our times.

And look at the difference. In 1791, Mozart went to an early grave. We never 
got to hear Mozart's 42nd Symphony. We were never able to hear the fruits of 
a late-night cafe conversation between Mozart and Beethoven. The aristocracy 
of that day, the inbred "market forces" of that day denied to us, late 
20th-century citizens, the fruits of such a meeting. The noble people of 
that era said to us that their word was worth more to us than Wolfgang's. 

In 1986, Diego said to those noble, inbred forces: "it is futbol that 
matters". So powerful was that message, that even the most salient "victims", 
in that island where the notion was born that futbol was worthy of rules, 
said "there was a Great moment in futbol, and we were but the background".

Six years later, Natalie Merchant wrote some lyrics to a pretty nice song... 

"These are days you'll remember. Never before, and never since, I promise, 
will the whole world be warm as this. And as you feel it, you'll know it's 
true that you are blessed and lucky. It's true that you are touched by 
something that will grow and bloom in you. 

When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see 
in every hour... you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky. It's 
true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you."

Then, finally, appealing to our innate irreverence, she breaks with the 
musical structure imposed by the song that she is singing (note the change 
in the length of the sentences),

 "These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break. These 
days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face. And when 
you do you'll know how it was meant to be. See the signs and know their 
meaning. It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be. Hear the signs and 
know they're speaking to you, to you."

And so it is, that if you're English, you might like to know that in 
Argentina, it is widely acknowledged that it was the English that taught us 
the first steps in futbol. These signs remain with us today, in the names of 
our clubs, and hence, will be with us as long as futbol is with us.

And so it is, that if you're Argentinian, you like to know that in England, 
it is widely ackowledged that in Argentina there is some futbol knowledge 
that is quasigenetic in nature. You can walk among Englishmen, tell them "I 
am from Argentina", and they will expect futbol skill from you to rival that 
of Maradona.

And so it is, that if you are in the United States of America, you might be 
surprised to learn that your neighbor also loves futbol, hates commercial 
interruptions, finds the ESPN announcers lacking, and is generally hoping 
that something genuine will once again emerge from athletic expression.

"Athletic expression"? Surely Ariel is wasting electrons again...

Perhaps it was the Greeks that first grasped it when they said "Mens sana, 
corpus sana" (and if I have the quote wrong, I expect RSS to enlighten me). 
Perhaps it came earlier than that, I cannot say, as that was the way that I 
was taught by my grandfather (a gallego, which could very well mean a celta) 
when he pointed towards a special supplement of La Nacion that spoke of 
earlier sporting times. If my grandfather were alive today, if in fact, we 
all ad the luxury of having our grandparents survive to the day when we were 
mature enough to understand the things they told us as we were growing up... 
perhaps I could say to you "my grandpa said what he said because he did not 
know any better". But I do not have that luxury, he is dead and buried, and 
I can only infer that he was as wise as he seemed, in spite of the fact that 
he was neither powerful enough to have a fancy funeral nor famous enough to 
have his words cast in stone. It is only my memory of what he said to me, 
before I even entered puberty, that remains... about how the feats of these 
men of yore, these Uruguayos that entered Maracana with 200,000 people 
telling them they were beaten, how it was just like these Greeks that held 
off the huge Persian fleets of Artaxerxes... because if the Greeks could 
conceive of 'Mens sana, corpus sana', they must have been onto something. It 
is only this memory that remains, that says that in spite of what the 
"common wisdom" dictates to you, it is the truth of life that matters.

It is that, I believe, that futbol embodies so perfectly. How unfair 
futbol can be, at times, even discounting the interference of the bribed or 
incompetent referee--the perfect play that ends up with the shot bouncing 
off the post, balanced by the lucky shot that kisses off the defender's 
thigh into the goal.

Then, think of this: there was this war over some islands in the Atlantic. 
We are free to think what we like about who should have jurisdiction over 
them (rest assured, I believe it should be Argentina), but the fact is that 
the war itself took place because two bureaucratic edifices saw it as their 
path to renovation--the shaky Tories in London and the savage military in 
Buenos Aires. And in 1986, on a futbol field in Mexico, that scenario was, 
supposedly, played out once again; but those of us that know our futbol 
know that the real story refers back to Wembley 1966. And so it is, for the 
umpteenth time, that the "outside" world impinges on the much more "real" 
sporting world, and how so many can come away from the game thinking "well 
that was for the Falklands/Malvinas" when in fact, the players could very 
well be thinking "that was for Rattin". 

So I say to you that these are the days when you can grasp truth from the 
most recondite sources. You are lucky to be young enough to be able to keep 
up with a global newsgroup, you are lucky enough to be able to access an 
unfiltered medium like RSS, and you are lucky to be willing enough to 
undertake the task of understanding futbol, the most organic, global 
athletic endeavor of the twentieth century. If you need outside confirmation 
for that which you hold dear in your heart, it was Bertold Brecht that 
observed that in the twentieth century, the true "theater" was the sporting 
arena. Futbol holds the global version of "suspension of disbelief", futbol 
holds the global version of "fuck your armies, it's eleven against eleven", 

futbol holds the global version of "organic, harmonic, historic, pan-cultural". 
You will, I hope, forgive me for feeling smug in my Argentinian self-
assurance that when it comes to futbol, I am on familiar territory--
ultimately, it is this global consciousness, this global language that 
interests me, and, I suspect, you too.