Argentine soccer exhibited its most insensitive and ruthless face this weekend. In the midst of the hottest summer in the last 117 years, he decided to play the matches of his different male and female categories as if nothing had happened at the oppressive 5:00 p.m.. When doctors recommend avoiding all kinds of physical effort at that time or limiting it to the minimum possible, AFA, the Professional League and television subjected the players, the referees and also the fans to an inhuman martyrdom: exposing themselves to full sunbeam at a time when the thermal sensation exceeded 40 degrees in the shade.
Only Rosario Central picked up the phone and got her meeting with Unión, originally scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday, to be moved to 9:30 p.m.. The rest of the clubs preferred to abide by the schedules set three weeks ago. Not even the players raised their voices in complaint or noted their annoyance at the inconsiderate treatment. Swallowed up by the voracity of the system, accustomed to never being taken into account, aware that their power is nil, they kept quiet, conceded and went out on the field as if the conditions were unbeatable. There was once a union that represented them and that is still called Futbolistas Argentinos Agremiados. Today seems to be just a rubber stamp. His secretary general, Sergio Marchi, has not had his voice heard for years. There must be a reason.
A trait of basic sensibility of the leaders would have delayed those games to hours in which, at least, the sun would not fall down on the playing fields and the stands. Or in the case of the women’s tournaments, I would have postponed the dates while waiting for a friendlier climate. But no one showed the slightest empathy. The unleashed capitalism of soccer ordered the usual: you cannot and must not stop the ball. And the show (and business) must go on. Only the nobility (or resignation) of the soccer players and the inexhaustible and invulnerable popular passion for soccer gave a veneer of normality to an abnormal situation, which should never have happened.
At a certain point, this weekend Argentine soccer went back almost a century. In the last amateur decade (1920/1930) it was common for championships to be played in the summer months and in sweltering temperatures. Héctor Arispe, a soccer player from Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, died of heat stroke on the field on March 1, 1931 while playing against Sportivo Barracas with a temperature of 38 degrees.. And that death caused the strike that three months later led to the creation of professionalism. Ninety years later, the health of the players was put at risk again and no one took notice. It was too hot on the fields. But when it came to decisions, the desks lacked human warmth, sensitivity, and empathy.