2001, the year we live in danger

In memory of José Pablo Feinmann (fan of the Academy).

Twenty years of a country on fire and bodies cooked by bullets transport us to 2001. Crises are usually an inexorable fate of our social temperature. The 38 deaths at the hands of the police, hundreds of seriously injured and two days of fury – December 19 and 20 – left Argentina in the subsoil of its history. There was a state of siege. The spontaneous outbreak was repressed with the penal code and too many troops in uniform and camouflaged in civilian clothes. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo faced them face to face. Domingo Cavallo’s playpen tightened like a shackle. The people asked for bread and work. In those conditions, Racing champion came out.

If wages would be worth nothing with the subsequent devaluation, lives less. In this framework of institutional repression and confiscation of savings, the sport was hacked, although not dying. In that time and space there was no margin for almost anything but football was safe. An image is remembered of that deep decline in subsistence conditions: thousands of hands were removing garbage bags looking for food scraps.

Racing became champion at that time after 35 years of calamities. There is a book that tells in detail how he earned that title without losing sight of the context. Fuck academy! by Alejandro Wall, published in 2011. The team and the journalist – a passionate fan – barely saw the celebration postponed for four days. From Sunday 23 to Thursday 27. But in the previous moments the asphalt was overheating. Social humor raised a fever and that in the country of “let everyone go” was dynamite. The author describes it when he gets into the shoes of the technical director, Reinaldo Merlo:

“Mustard was too submerged in that vaporous dream that was Racing champion when the country began to burn. How did you stop thinking? Impossible. We are part of this world. You had to cross the Pueyrredón Bridge and the Pueyrredón Bridge was cut off. And the problem was not that it was cut, but why they cut it. In the Peronism of Mustard there is sensitivity. Mustard, a tough midfield player, is a sensitive man. So when he got home, he couldn’t focus on Velez’s videos. He nailed the television on the newscasts that continuously broadcast the repression, the youth resisting, the smoke in the city and the helicopter taking height ”.

President Fernando de la Rúa fled in a device similar to the one that the coup plotters of ’76 removed María Estela Martínez de Perón from the Casa Rosada. Isabelita, now in her nineties, was detained for five years. The radical head of state was luckier. He did not lose his freedom.

Step by step, like Racing de Merlo, football recalculated its dates in that summer that was beginning. Anxiety ate the nerves of the average fan who waited for an elusive title since 1966. In that country that did not give respite, you had to wait a little longer. The team reached the last date three points above River. With a tie it was enough to him to give the Olympic return. He played in Liniers with Velez and in the Cilindro de Avellaneda through a giant screen. On the afternoon of the 27th the Academy filled both stadiums.

That mimicry between the climate on the pitch and the one that exploded in the streets where life was not worth two pesos, began to be perceived already on the night of the 19th. / They put it in their ass ”the crowd sang on the way to the Plaza de Mayo.

Martín Vitali, Racing’s right-back, headed down the Western Access from Morón towards Congress. Wall describes the night that the footballer exercised his citizen right to protest like other fans that sprout from his pages (Flavio Nardini, Martín Sharples, Adrián Grana…): “He went down Avenida Entre Ríos and began to honk. The weather absorbed it… ”. He sang the hymn that was sung in various Buenos Aires street corners and let his adrenaline flow for the situation. “That time, while he let himself be stunned by the saucepans, he forgot for a moment about Racing and what was coming. Martin Vitali, the side who was about to be champion, saw the Plaza de Mayo packed and was moved. It was his first time at a demonstration ”.

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A few months before he played for Independiente. He had crossed from a great Avellaneda to the other in the winter of 2001. He lacked the title or, strictly speaking, the game in which that stressful title should be defined. The same day it was scheduled and was suspended – Sunday, December 23 – Ole titled on the cover: “Racing won.”

A meeting between the manager of Blanquiceleste, Fernando Marín, Julio Grondona, the minister Miguel Angel Toma and the short-lived president Ramón Puerta decided the date. It happened to Thursday 27. Loeschbor, the lungo who scored two key goals in the Apertura championship – against Independiente and that day with Vélez – multiplied his cry in as many voices as those that were shouted from Liniers to Avellaneda and that were replicated throughout the country .

It was the sporting event of the year, although not the only one. Before and after, there was a Youth World Cup that was achieved by the U-20 team in Vélez -the same stage where the Academy was established-, the second Copa Libertadores in a row that the Boca de Carlos Bianchi won, the postponed Mercosur Cup that San Lorenzo was recently able to obtain in 2002 against Flamengo and in other disciplines, the birth of – for many – the best national team in history in any discipline: that of the Golden Generation of basketball.

He began consecrating himself in the FIBA ​​Americas of Neuquén in August 2001. The title gave him the passport to the 2002 Indianapolis World Cup. He came out runner-up. The cycle continued with the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Ginobili and his teammates would go to the background in popular recognition.

But there was more. 2001 was also the year of the eighteenth National League that Atenas de Córdoba won only in May 2002. Of the 21st edition of the Argentina World Rally. Of the XXXV Men’s Roller Hockey World Cup that was played in San Juan and Spain beat Argentina in the final. From the third edition of the Rugby World Cup 7 in Mar del Plata that consecrated New Zealand for the first time.

But nothing was comparable for his emotional tension with that title that Racing celebrated after 35 years and ended with Mustard Merlo immortalized in bronze. For Argentina “The cranes passed by “, as in the classic Soviet cinema. Millions of retirees and state employees had to endure a 13 percent cut in their income. It was charged in Lecops or Patacones, the so-called quasi-currencies. The almost apocalyptic crisis made that championship one of the most suffered in history. Somewhat for the stoicism with which the fans experienced each game on all the fields. But more for a country that broke down. Like Racing, it was rebuilt from its ashes.

The club had been declared sudden death in March 1999 when Liliana Ripoll, a La Plata trustee, announced that it was “extinct”, and that it had ceased to “exist as a club.” It was a passing nightmare. An advertisement that sounded like a Greek tragedy. You can always be worse, says Pepe Mujica, a fan of Cerro de Montevideo, with his proverbial philosophy of life. Racing can attest.

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