The Sweat-Stained Fatherland

Juan Sasturain


It is a well-known sports cliché that the shirt should be honoured, defended and, especially, sweated into. Sweat on a shirt is – in football – what blood is to a flag in wartime. It’s just a step, an excessive one certainly, from a sweaty shirt to a bloody flag. Players say that they’re ‘playing for their lives’; that they sweat blood. The iconic colours are honoured by getting them wet. Then there are the tears kept in reserve: the flood of emotion that was promised by Churchill during a World Cup that was no game at all. And this one isn’t either. It’s incredible what we invest in this ball game. This book reviews all the world cups in which Argentina has been involved, or more accurately the ones we’ve played in over the radio, live, or in our memories; both our own and second hand ones passed down through the family.

“This account is inevitably personal, sentimental in the best sense

of the word: this is how I experienced them – as kid, a teenager,

a young man and now a veteran – when these world championships were

all around and inside of us. The precise information about the squads,

results, players, dates and matches is shoved to one side; it’s just the

setting and background, not the real story. I know of no more painful

pleasure. But we all know it’s worth it.” 

Juan Sasturain


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