A necaxist at heart and a keen thinker about the football phenomenon, Juan Villoro, once again writes about sports in his new novel “No fue penal”, which he publishes under the Almadía seal. A narrative full of pambolera passion, in which the author refers to the personal and off-field factors that mark the lives of the players and their fans.
“One of the dramatic situations in football are injuries among players, sometimes this marks their destiny. This is the story of two footballers who were great friends, but in training one, the one who was the clumsiest and was not a figure, accidentally causes a fracture to the great figure of the National Team. This on the eve of a World Cup, which ends the hopes of a country, of a generation, but also of players who will never be the same again,” says Juan Villoro, in an interview with The Sun of Mexico.
The story is told in two parts, each from the perspective of a player during the second half of a decisive match, years after that fateful injury. “El Tanque”, who from a bad player became one of those technical directors who “put out fires”, and “Valeriano Fuentes”, who after retiring returned to the soccer field as a video referee.
“All plays have a private life. They not only influence what is happening on the field, but also the lives that the players lead off it. When a footballer misses a penalty, maybe he does it because his wife just left him. There are personal causes for sports performance. In this novel there is a sentimental struggle, because the outstanding player not only surpassed the other in soccer skills, but also stays with the woman he liked. So, there are two rivalries, the sporting one, which is healthy, and the emotional one, which is not healthy,” adds the author.
As part of the various elements that are mentioned in the novel, the generational change and the transformation of the game and consumption of Mexican soccer, which Villoro considers have caused “the deterioration of the codes,” as well as their quality, which he sees reflected in the results at the international level.
“The Mexican soccer organization has disrespected soccer itself to a superlative degree. One can watch a game and suddenly be interrupted by advertising, while players are commercial products that can last only six months of a team and are taken away in the next tournament. The commercial exploitation of this sport is truly abusive, I think there is a very understandable distancing from the clubs,” he says.
In the plot, “Valeriano Fuentes” recognizes that in reality soccer was not his great passion, but what motivates him to continue is the deep passion with which some fans dedicate themselves to the teams they love.
“People delegate many of their ambitions, dreams, frustrations and superstitions to stadiums. The bars or batons often have an almost religious status. In Argentina there is a Maradorian church, with liturgy, with ecclesiastical hierarchies, with religious protocols.
“Here I wanted to play with that, with some fans who decide to watch the games through a veil because they believe it brings them good luck. But I myself have had my thoughts, for example, closing my eyes when the ball enters the rival area, my sacrifice is not seeing the goal, in exchange for Necaxa scoring,” he points out.
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Without it being the center of the work, Villoro mentions the interference of violence and organized crime in Mexican soccer. This seems to the writer to be an explainable fact, since we live “in a narco-society,” which is increasingly present in all areas of life, such as the reality of the bravas gangs, but also of the officials who carry them out. they use.
“The managers have been complicit in many of these bars. A very great educational and civic work would have to be done. But the issue is this: If the managers ignore the passion because they do what they want, if they sell the favorite player of the fans, if they harm the shirt with all kinds of advertisements, why will the fan have noble behavior when your teams don’t have it? I believe that when you want to find corruption in Mexican soccer, it is not in the chancha that you have to look, but rather in the directors’ boxes,” he concludes.