Luis Suarez’s alleged racial abuse case may prove that football is not completely ready to go global.
Earlier this summer, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was on the radio show “Fresh Air” talking about his new book Black in Latin America. The host, Terry Gross, begins the interview by admitting how much she didn’t know about the slave trade outside the U.S. context. She is doubtless one of countless people (including myself) whose understanding of this global history is defined by the American experience of the slave trade, slavery, and emancipation. It is the narrative through which the discourse about race has been measured from subsequent liberation movements in the U.S. and abroad. Take for example the documentary Black Power Mix-Tape 1965-1975, a Swedish film by Goran Hugo Olsson, which is comprised of recently discovered footage shot by a small team of Swedish filmmakers running around America trying to make sense of it all.
Gates tosses out a few facts in support of this alternative history, which illustrates how little is known about the global history of race. One set of statistics is sufficient: the slave trade transported more than 11 million slave out of Africa. Of that number, less than 500, 000 went to the U.S. The rest were transported to the Caribbean and Latin America, with 4.8 million to Brazil alone.
There is a conservative assessment that 120 million Latin Americans are of African origin (conservative because this estimate is not measured by hypodescent, meaning having at least one drop of African blood in them, which would increase the number significantly). Today, Brazil has 134 categories of “blackness”, which of course have 134 linguistic descriptions, and as the Luis Suarez incident highlights, also numerous degrees of social acceptance. I’m not sure how many categories are used in Uruguay, but the slave trade and African Diaspora has played a significant role in the cultural development of Uruguay. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRA), there are 190,000 Afro-Uruguayans in Uruguay, the majority living in Montevideo, where the seven-year old Luis Suarez and his family settled in 1998.
The allegations of racial abuse against Suarez are unclear. An attempt to understand the incident has set off a discussion of the linguistic and cultural differences that define race and racism around the world, particularly Latin America, but also England and continental Europe
Kenny Dalglish’s decision to feature Jordan Henderson has had unfortunate consequences.
0-1 to Stoke, three down to Spurs, if this downward trend continues we might start thinking that ‘King Kenny’ is actually a cantankerous, milky-eyed old man with a penchant for selling talented foreign imports (Meireles) and buying in vastly inferior, twice-the-price British replacements (Henderson) and not, as Liverpool fans would have it, the Second Coming of Christ Our Saviour. -Tom Midlane.
On June 9th, Liverpool bit the bullet and paid the surcharge, known as the English premium, to sign Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson before other rival clubs stepped in and absconded with the talented young midfielder. But there was little need for worry, since no one is more seduced by this “asset” than Kenny Dalglish.
After failing in January, Liverpool finally rescued the eager Charlie Adam on July 7th from Blackpool. Adam was well aware that he was an addition to a central midfield already populated by the well established Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva. But for some reason, Adam included Henderson in this list, as if a month was sufficient time for Henderson to be considered a player Adam would have to unseat. It may have already been clear to him that Henderson was the manager’s “golden boy”, a status as embedded as proven experienced veteran.
The following week, Liverpool signed winger Stuart Downing, who would find less competition on the left with the right-sided utilitarian Dirk Kuyt, the shadow-of-former-self Joe Cole, substitute Maxi Rodriguez, and of course the golden boy who, if pushed from the center, would move to the right.
Add to this the return of Alberto Aquilani on July 4th from a season-long loan at Juventus, the undecided fate of Joe Cole, an eventually healthy—if fragile—Gerrard, the in-form Raul Meireles, and Liverpool have got themselves a glut of midfielders—ten including Kuyt or twelve if counting Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing. Kenny Dalglish—befitting a king—had the pleasure and privilege of abundant choice (as well as the attendant problems of those left out who think otherwise).
Arséne Wenger’s new project is to win the league with the reserve team; Kenny Dalglish needs to rethink his lineup; Manchester City proves the old addage that success can’t buy happiness, but then again who needs happiness; Manchester United’s experienced inexperienced youth; that Harry Redknapp sagging deadpan expression of being underwhelmed when overwhelmed sums up Tottenham nicely.
Arsenal 0—Liverpool 2
Depletion and woe weren’t deemed adequate punishment for Arsenal, so the Furies decided to toss in an injury crises and bad luck just to be safe. The home opener at the Emirates was witness to an Arsenal squad comprised of reserves and tyros with almost no Premier League experience. Liverpool should have won this game handily, but encountered a spirited Arsenal side reduced to 10 men after an impressive Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off for youthful zeal, which proved Liverpool is far from formidable.
Andy Carroll played about seventy minutes. It wasn’t his fault that Liverpool’s strategy devolved into kicking the ball toward his head to see what would happen. It didn’t take long to see that nothing came of this, yet Liverpool continued for another sixty minutes. Liverpool finally took control of the game when Luis Suarez and Raul Mierieles came on late and scored an offside goal. It’s a good sign that Miereles has established himself in the league, because Jordan Henderson clearly isn’t ready despite Kenny Dalglish’s insistence to start him.
Arsenal are suffering from a degree of misfortune that exceeds the fair amount they have brought upon themselves, while the emerging belief of restoration around Anfield should be kept in the shorts until results prove decisively alluring. The match is a good example that a win, no matter how unimpressive, can boost a club’s confidence, and that a loss, truly mitigated by handicap and misfortune, still can be a blow to the psyche.
Felt that he wasn’t given a chance, the ex-Liverpool manager has been granted a near savior’s role at West Brom.
Roy Hodgson’s return to the sideline as manager with West Brom witnessed an immediate turn-around for a club whose term in the Premier League was beginning to look like a short visit.
Seven weeks into his tenure, he had yet to lose his first five games. Winning one and drawing four would not be grounds for bestowing a manager with aura, but sitting in 17th place upon arrival and taking the team to 16th place in April is a feat of stabilization, one that eluded him at Liverpool, whom he would be facing for the first time since his ignoble sacking less than three months prior.
Now it was time to watch him closely, study his profile; this was the moment of his return, as if those first five games were only whispers of his impending arrival.
His nine-season absence from the Premier League from 1999-2007 was less of a journey that his five weeks of reflection and licking his wounds after Liverpool sacked him in January.
At Fulham, his dapper figure was a familiar sight. He was someone we felt we knew, an uncle, our mother’s older brother. You wanted to hear the stories of his time in Scandinavia, the Middle East, Italy, and Switzerland.
But Liverpool had banished him, sent him beyond the gates, where word—when it got through—was that he was taking it all very hard. Now he had an opportunity to face his judge on new terms.
We watch closely because something had to have changed. He may have gone into the jungle slightly deranged, but he walked out through the other side. Now he’s a man in a trench coat, no longer so lovable with that eternal scowl and overwhelming seriousness not only to save a struggling team, but a struggling career.
Dirk Kuyt may not be on anyone’s top ten list of best players, but he would be indispensible to any team fortunate to have him.
Johan Cruyff’s admiration for Kuyt during the World Cup in South Africa:
“He has developed into one of the most valuable players of this Dutch team.
“It’s great to see how he has developed into one of the most valuable players. Coming up to the tournament I had my doubts about him, but he has been great from the opening game against Denmark. And just look at what he has done since. He started wide-right, after that he played center forward and against Brazil he made sure on the left not only that Maicon was kept quiet, but he also prepared the winning goal. He’s worth his weight in gold for your team.”
You must always strive for more and plan ahead, but too often recently I’ve heard Liverpool supporters redefine our greatest nights and victories because they didn’t lead to the League title later on. -Jamie Carragher from Carra, My Autobiography
Roy Hodgson has been sacked. He was hired to bring immediate stability to the club and then plant it like sod. After six to eight weeks, where no one was allowed to step on it and everyday the big birds were shooed off, the grass would be strong enough for the team to play on and begin the return to the top. The urgency was both long- and short-term and at odds with the much slower pace of Hodgson’s methodical molding and grooming of the team.
Withheld expectations were finally imposed. The terms changed. Stability should have given way to performance and results. Hodgson’s composure, forged in a lapsed era, withstood decades of management, only to collide with new attitudes that no longer held it in high regard.
Hodgson now looked frayed, at times a little demented, which may be correlated to more frequent appearances in untailored tracksuits. The new ownership had proved to be the calm authority, if a little mysterious, and earned sufficient supporter trust to begin imposing itself on matters. It was always about the money. Charisma, experience, and wisdom were supplemental and yet, given almost no money to spend, Hodgson was left with the task of making steady progress up the table. Occasional sputtering didn’t count.
He was the captain brought in to right the ship. He may have sailed around the world, but he fought his battles only in the bays and ports of the cities he lived. In the open sea, the sharks circled. His experience and success no longer amounted to much, which many cited as insufficient reasons to hire him. He wasn’t the guy to lead Liverpool’s restoration.
In steps Kenny Dalglish. Revered for what he had done for the club twenty years ago. Another one with an identity forged in the past, but perhaps the right past—one to squeeze from the passage of time and unrecognizable change a constancy that eluded his predecessor.