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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Losing Your Shirt in Argentina

Luciano Leguizamon of Gimnasia y Esgrima gave the shirt off of his back. Unfortunately, it was not perceived as a sporting gesture. Because the recipient was none other than Juan Sebastian Veron. A legendary Argentine player, but on this day, a hated rival.

During a La Plata derby in the province of Buenos Aires, Veron asked for his shirt during the game. Apparently, one of Veron's relatives was a fan, so when Juan asked for the shirt at the half-time break, Luciano Leguizamon provided it. Although his team are bitter rivals of Estudiantes, Leguizamon could not have anticipated what would happen next in this time-honored tradition of world football.

The fans revolted during the game, and the manager had to substitute Leguizamon from the game. Eventually, they would end up playing with 10 men. They lost 0 x 1, and now Leguizamon is a pariah. He has been frozen out of the team for the rest of the season (one more game), although he is allowed to train. He apologized to all concerned, but it wasn't enough.

Leguizamon on the event:

“Prima della partita Veron mi ha chiesto la camiseta per un suo parente che, per colpa mia, è diventato tifoso del Gimnasia – ha raccontato Leguizamon -. Gli ho detto di sì, ma solamente alla fine. Quando l’arbitro ha fischiato l’intervallo, però, mi ha chiamato e senza darmi tempo di dire niente mi ha dato la sua. Mi dispiace che quanto è avvenuto abbia potuto in qualche modo ferire qualcuno: accetterò le sanzioni che la dirigenza riterrà più opportune”.
"Before the game Veron asked me for my shirt for one of his relatives, due to my fault, became a supporter of Gimnasia, recounted Leguizamon. I told him yes, but only at the end of the game. When the referee whistled for half-time, he asked me and without giving me time to say anything he gave me his (shirt). I'm sorry that what happened has in some way hurt (injured) someone: I will expediently accept the sanctions that the directors have reserved for me."
Here was Veron's response:

“Nel calcio c’è troppa isteria: quello che è successo non aiuta se l’obiettivo è eliminare la violenza. Leguimazon non voleva certo mancare di rispetto ai suoi tifosi. Oggi viviamo in una follia: ci si aggrappa a questi fatti per giustificare una sconfitta: il Gimnasia non ha perso perchè Luciano ha scambiato la sua maglia con me”.
"In football, there is too much hysteria: what happened didn't help the objective to eliminate violence. Leguimazon surely didn't want to lose the respect of his fans. Today we live in a folly: those who latch on to these things to justify a loss. Gimnasia didn't lose because Luciano exchanged his shirt with me."
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The power, and at times, the insanity, of bitter football rivalries.

Don't cry for me, Argentina...

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