WORLD CUP AND ALCOHOLISM (At The Fix)
The final game between Germany and Argentina is this Sunday, but is the greatest global sporting event a perfect storm for alcoholism? Our Argentinean correspondent reports...
Usually, in Brazil, it is forbidden to sell alcohol inside stadiums. But a request from FIFA—the Fédération Internationale de Football Association—changed that law for the duration of the World Cup being hosted in Brazil this year, and so alcoholic beverages have been allowed during all World Cup games.This was generally greeted as good news, especially by European soccer supporters who are accustomed to drinking during games. Some even see alcohol and soccer as a cultural tradition (see Amongst The Thugs by Bill Buford).
But what about the players on the field? Obviously they aren’t drinking while playing, but many fare badly with booze off the field.
Yes, there is sudden worldwide fame, glory, and sponsorship deals measuring in the millions. But on the other side there is a whole new level of pressures. According to an article published in The Guardian last year, hundreds of players face mental health issues. Could those issues lead players into addiction?
Paul Gascoigne, the English footballer who was part of the team in the 1990 World Cup, is one of many cautionary tales in the sport. After retiring the game, he had legal problems due to his drunkenness and in 1998 he entered his first rehab, later repeating treatment many times.
Argentinean World Cup player Diego Maradona had his first positive doping result during the 1994 World Cup, and was sent to several rehabilitation programs for alcohol and drugs. As his world fame increased, so did the controversy surrounding his personal life. Following his retirement from the game, his health deteriorated into familiar addict territory—with heart problems, obesity and hepatitis. In his prime he was considered one of the best players of all time; in retirement he became a shell of his former self.
English player Andy Carroll is considered both a “crack” and a “bad boy.” His strength and powerful shots led him to become the highest paid player in the UK in 2006. But within two years he was facing arrests for assault followed by a string of episodes of violence and problems with teammates. By 2011, he was said to have settled down.
Also from England, Paul Merson was part of the 1998 World Cup held in France. His drinking and gambling led to the end of a marriage and a spell in prison for drunk driving in 2011, though he too has since found recovery.
Tony Adams took a decade to accept his addiction to alcohol. The English player, listed as one of the “100 legends” of the Football league, created the Sporting Chance Clinic in 2000 to provide treatment, counseling and support for athletes suffering from different kinds of addictions.
The career of the Irish player Paul McGrath was almost finished due to alcohol. In his autobiography Back from the Brink, he tells about his hard childhood as an orphan in Dublin and his struggles with alcoholism and a life lived on the edge of chaos until, finally, his hope and determination for the future won out and his story became a way for him to help others.
But there were other players for whom a second chance was not possible. Manuel Dos Santos, most commonly known as Garrincha (“little bird” in Brazilian), was a FIFA World Cup winner with his team in 1958 and 1962. But after financial, marital and alcohol problems, Garrincha went into an alcoholic coma and died of cirrhosis when he was 49. His last years were lonely. Nonetheless, millions of fans attended his funeral and today there is a bust of him in one of the FIFA 2014 World Cup venues: Maracanã stadium.
Argentinean coach Matías Almeyda faced alcohol issues, too. “I was depressed during my career. Sometimes I would just sit, awake for hours, looking at no one and nothing. I spent time in bed with no wish of waking up” he told a local radio program. “I had alcohol issues. I was selfish. I had to start therapy. Talking to a psychologist helped me to open [up and express] my feelings to others, especially my family. My wife supported me a lot.” Almeyda recognized his need for a change.
“Mind rules over the body; I am convinced of that. Help is possible” concluded Almeyda.
This was echoed by Andy Carroll’s statement: "I am a fighter. I am determined to do well here.”
Meanwhile, Germany and Argentina will face off this weekend, surrounded by drinking, cheering fans. We can only hope that the glory and adulation of the moment doesn’t lead to devastation for the players.
© 2014, www.thefix.com
Romina Mazzaferri is a writer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She works in communications for a NGO and writes for a number of magazines and websites in Argentina and internationally.
The leader of the South African anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, died in Johannesburg on December 5th. He was an activist lawyer, politician and philanthropist who, despide considering a controversial figure, increased his popularity after he was imprisioned and spent 27 years on jail. Once released, he gained international acclaim and received hundreds of honours, including the Nobel Prize Peace in 1993.
There are some things (among others) that we can learn from his inspirational life:
1. Crisis make us stronger.
Mandela spent almost 30% of his life in prision. But went on and assumed that “there is no easy walk to freedom.”
2. Change the strategy, if necessary.
We can change our mind and focus on what is really important. Such a thing implies leaving our comfort zone: “if you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
3. Be ready to learn all the time.
Above all, to re-learn what is good, useful and necessary. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
4. Don’t stop working.
Work hard. “It always seems impossible until its done.”. And then, work harder. Mandela said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
5. Don’t think only in ourselves.
Nobody can be happy based on the unhappiness of the others. In Mandela’s words: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
6. Be clever.
There are weapons that made no harm. Let’s use them. Mandela said: ”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
As William Shakespeare stated, ”there is no bad beginning to a good end“.
© 2013, www.yuppee.com. All rights reserved. Online Magazine
By Romina Mazzaferri
On March 13th, the Catholic Church have chosen his 266th Pope: theArgentine Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio (76 years old), who took the papal name Francis.
That way, he became the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be chosen Pope.
His first words as leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State were a kind of joke about how far he came from: “It seems that my brothers the Cardinals had to look for a Pope close to the end of the world”.
Francis also asked for a prayer on behalf of his predecessor Benedict XVI.
In Buenos Aires, where Francis lived, he had a low profile, he used to travel by public transportation and to promote ecumenical meetings. His strong position against abortion, gay marriage, adoption by same-sex couples and euthanasia brought him some issues with the local government. Indeed, he criticized the wealthy who had not into account to the poor: "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice” he denounced to a local newspaper.
On the other hand, a local journalist published a book with a denunciation against him and the Catholic Church for collaborating with the military dictatorship in the ’70. But the elected Pope had defended himself a couple of years ago saying that he gave people shelter on church property during these years of the dictatorship.
From now on, Catholics and no Catholics are expecting how the second no-European Pope will work.
It matters not only how the new Pope leads his Church but also how the inter-religious relationships will be.
(Printed issue April 2013)
November 23rd is the International Day of Words.Words…
How much a simple one can contain! It is filled with senses, intentions, experiences, memories, meanings. It is a social and cultural fact but, at the same time, is so personal too.
We live with words.
Everything started with a word.
Words can heal… and can hurt. Words can give life or wish death. Words can lead to peace or to war.
Insults, bad words, aggressions can damage deeper than a weapon. Because words reach the heart, the soul.The wise king Solomon said “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Using words is a huge responsibility. And we are constantly using them.
We think, we say, we share, we tell them to others.
The Day of Words initiative was taken by the Spanish foundation César E. Serrano commemorating the day that the Museum of Words was created in Toledo, Spain. With the support of universities, professionals, organisations and celebrities of culture, this foundation presented a manifest to the United Nations.
The motto was “words are the bond of humankind” in order to promote them as a way of understanding and peaceful treatments between communities.
We have the words, we have the power. A mother can mark her son for life so deep by calling him “stupid” in a moment of anger. A relationship or a friendship, can be damaged by angry words. Or, the opposite, they can be lifted up with proper, encouraging words.
How about we start saying good words? Words of encouragement, of congratulation, of support.
A simple word can change the world!
What are you doing with your words?
© 2013, www.yuppee.com. All rights reserved. Online Magazine
By Romina Mazzaferri
On December 28th last year, USA President Barak Obama signed “The countering Iran in the western Hemisphere Act” which states that “it is U.S. policy to use a comprehensive strategy to counter Iran’s growing hostile presence in the Western Hemisphere by working together with U.S. allies and partners in the region to deter threats to U.S. interests by Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah”.
Now, the State Department should design a series of political and diplomatic strategies within the next 180 days in order to describe “the presence, activities, and operations of Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah” and to make a plan “to address efforts by foreign persons, entities, and governments in the region to assist Iran in evading sanctions, to protect U.S. interests, assets, and allies in the Western Hemisphere, to support U.S. efforts to designate persons and entities in the Western Hemisphere for proliferation and terrorist activities relating to Iran, and to address vital U.S. interests in ensuring energy supplies from the Western Hemisphere.”
Although these strategies are confidential, there should be a public summary of them.The North America country is showing concern about the presence of Iran in Latin America since a time ago.In July 2011, according to the daily press briefing of the US Department of State, the spokesperson Mark Tonner had said that they “are aware of Iran’s interest and engagement in the Western Hemisphere, and continue to monitor these relationships closely”.
During the last years, the Iran president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had made several trips to Latin America.
Also Iran increased the embassies in the region from 5 to 11. So, from a total of 20 countries in Latin America, Iran has embassy in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela.Even they are the same continent, the different countries proceed in different ways about USA and Iran.The text of the resolution signed by Obama affirmed that “Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela expressed their intention to assist Iran in evading sanctions by signing a statement supporting Iran’s nuclear activities and announcing at a 2010 joint press conference in Tehran their determination to ‘continue and expand their economic ties to Iran’ with confidence that ‘Iran can give a crushing response to the threats and sanctions imposed by the West and imperialism’”. The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, who is now recovering after a surgery in Cuba, defines himself as an anti-imperialist and shows explicit support to Iran. Together with Cuba they were the Latin America countries who have supported Iran’s nuclear program in a February 2006 vote at the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency. Chávez and Ahmadinejad embrace the idea of independence from the great powers, primarily the United States.
On the other hand, the chancellors from Argentina (Héctor Timerman) and from Iran (Ali Akbar Salehi) were keeping a series of meeting in Geneva and Zurich in order to find a legal resolution to the Cause AMIA, the bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires occurred in 1994 that caused 85 deaths. In 2006, an Argentine tribunal formally accused to the country Iran and Hezbollah of being the planners of the attack. Now the Argentine Government is keeping meeting with both victim’s families and Iran representations.Each Latin American country will react different to the Obama’s law. After those 180 days, when the strategies are made, each country will take part according to its own Government interests and foreign politics.
In the USA, the third Monday of January is commemorated the Martin Luther Kind Day, observed near his birthday on 15th January, 1929.
Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist preacher who became the figure of the civil right movement, using no violence.
His speeches traveled the world inspiring millions.“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” stated in one of them. His most famous one was “I have a dream” given in Washington in 1963.“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character” he dreamed.
His figure is a symbol of non violence fight and also a sample of defending ideals until the last consequences.
We need a bit of Luther King today in this over-virtual, superficial, ephemeral world. ”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. He was shot on April 4th, 1968. He promoted: “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
As Bono, U2 main leader, said: “they took your life, they could not take your pride”.
© 2014, www.yuppee.com. All rights reserved. Online Magazine