Saturday, June 26, 2010

La Virgen de la Copa?

Two of my greatest interests are Hispanic popular Catholicism and fútbol so when my colleague Marcos, a Brazil fan ("Go Canarinhos!"), told me this rumor about the Argentina selection and Our Lady, it was irresistible and I had to investigate.

Sure enough, I found a Web site, a Facebook page, and a video (see below) from avid Albiceleste fans who think the team should end its string of bad luck by going to the shrine at Tilcara. Here is a translation of this story as it appears on the Web site:

During the first days of January 1986, Carlos Bilardo brought the Argentina soccer players to train at Tilcara, to acclimate the team to the altitude of Mexico, where the World Cup was being held that year. The famous promise was made during this stay: the players visited the Virgin of Copacabana del Abra de Punta Corral and asked Her to help them with their dream of becoming world champions; in return, they promised to come back one day to thank Her.

Six months later, Argentina won the World Cup, lit up by the divine magic of the best player of all times, Diego Maradona. However, the promise was never fulfilled. They tried a few times; a delegation representing the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (Argentina Soccer Association) even managed to travel to Tilcara. But the players, for one reason or another, never came back to thank the Virgin.

Maybe it's all just a coincidence, but the truth is that since then not only have we never been able to raise the Cup up again, but we have also suffered a series of misfortunes such as the dubious ruling by referee Edgardo Codesal in 1990, the "they have cut my legs off" in 1994, the unexplained elimination in 2002, and the shots hitting goal posts, expulsions, and even injuries that appeared and disappeared mysteriously.

There will be those who believe and those who don't. But we can all agree on one thing: Promises should be kept, especially when the Albiceleste is at stake.

Therefore this humble and respectful petition: that at least one of the players travel to Tilcara. A new World Cup is approaching. What better moment to fulfill the promise?

I don't know if this is true or not -- my friend Marcos would probably say that it's just that Argentina can't play, no otherwordly explanations required -- but I think the players should hedge their bets by keeping their promise. No debemos defraudar a Nuestra Madre.

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