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"We can only ask the Argentine people now to forgive us for what we have done."

 "We can only ask the Argentine people now to forgive us for what we have done."

If you know that that statement is for a football player, your mind will go straight to imagining the final game that this player lost with his teammates in the last moments, or the disappointing performance of his country and his exit from the first rounds of an important international tournament. ''

But what if I told you that this statement is attributed to the Argentine "Ubaldo Fillol", the goalkeeper of his country who won the 1978 World Cup in Argentina?

Philol made this statement 40 years after winning the World Cup. He launched it at the Riverblate Team: the Monumental, the same stadium in which he lifted the World Cup. This time, however, he is standing on the field next to two elderly Argentinians over the age of 60. Philol stands in advance of his apology to them and the entire Argentine people for winning the 1978 World Cup.

What is the story of these two old women? And why does Philol apologize for the most important football achievement that a footballer might add to his history and the history of his people?

Ten buildings between joy and oppression

Venue: Riverblate's Monumental Stadium.

When: June 25, 1978.

The event: The World Cup Final between Argentina - the owner of the land - and the Netherlands.

The stadium is full of thousands of Argentine people. Of course, the World Cup Final in your country is a unique event. The match ended with Argentina winning 3-1. The Monumental Land almost shook. The stadium erupted with the loud cries of thousands, rejoicing at their team's World Cup victory.

Summary of the 1978 World Cup Final match

But only 10 concrete buildings away, specifically underground, they were heard by thousands of other political prisoners in a notorious prison. The School of Naval Mechanics Prison, a secret detention camp where countless disappeared political prisoners were housed and tortured by the soldiers of Jorge Videla.

Argentine Videla is the owner of one of the bloodiest military dictatorships in the history of South America, after a military coup against the democratic system in Argentina in 1976.

"I remember the crowd screaming" Jowol "while I was in prison that night. Their screaming made me feel suffocated and defeated. I felt that no matter how loud my cries were while I was being tortured, none of these fans would feel me."

One of the detainees in the Maritime Mechanics School prison in the 2003 documentary "Parallel History".

Videla tried to win that championship in any way to polish the image of his dictatorship in front of the world press, whose pages were filled with news of massacres, disappearances, and arrests that he was carrying out.

It got to the Peruvian dressing room before their final group tournament match with Argentina, in which the tango players needed to win four goals or more to qualify. It did happen but in a very strange scenario.

General "Bermudez", the military dictator of the State of Peru at the time, accused him of threatening and intimidating Peruvian players. As for the Peruvian players, they agreed that his presence in the dressing room was frightening to them, and his conversation with them was not familiar at all.

Black magic of football

In his book "How did they steal the game?", The English writer "David Yallop" said that the magic that the game is described by, as long as it contains a bad part that can be called "black magic". Racism, financial corruption, the death of the crowd in the stands are all things that can be listed under the black magic of the game.

The exploitation of military coups in football in order to turn a blind eye to its crimes is the tip of the pyramid of black magic in football. The worst of these cases is that they show the human element in its weakest, most cruel, and closest to animal nature.

Governments tend to favor their own economic interests and turn a blind eye to other people's lives. Players are looking for personal glory and are content - deliberately - to play the little gear in the giant machine and pretend not to be able to change.

Even the ordinary public uses a trick to separate football from those who exploit it for their political advantage; Neglecting this relationship will guarantee him the pleasure of the ball on the one hand, and the human feeling of denying the insult he is exposed to daily from any tyrannical regime on the other hand.

In the 1978 World Cup, there were 20 French detainees in Videla prisons in Argentina. However, France insisted on participating in the World Cup despite the fierce opposition from the French left to that step. Opposition arrived at the attempt to kidnap the then French coach, "Michel Hidalgo", while he was on his way to the national team's plane bound for Argentina.

As for the players, Johan Cruyff did not prevent him from leading the Netherlands in this suspicious World Cup version except for his attempt to kidnap him and his wife at gunpoint, according to his statements to Radio Catalunya in 2008. But he was willing to go without caring about what is happening in Videla prisons, if not exposed The life of his family is personally at risk.

The Argentine players themselves, who are the closest to events, preferred to watch their people from afar and participate in football only, without looking at others. They convince themselves that they are the tiny gears in the grand machine that Videla controls, even though they were the biggest part of the scene.

Magic turned on the magician

"We did not know what was happening in the country. After people from my family were arrested and disappeared two years after the 1978 World Cup, it disgusted me. Videla shook my hand the moment the World Cup was handed over to us, and now I prefer to cut it whenever I see that scene."

Argentine winger Rene Houseman, who won the 1978 World Cup with his country.

It was not the Argentine winger Haussmann who had been enjoying the black magic of football against him, but so was the Argentine goalkeeper. In 1979, with the goalkeeper looking to turn away from River Plate, Massera's right-hand man Carlos Lacoste, a Melonario fanatic, called him to attend a meeting.

Lacoste called me, took out a gun and put it on the table, and told me he could make me disappear and no one would ever know where I was. I was just a kid and I didn't get things right, and the more I remembered having participated in it, I felt sad. "

Argentine goalkeeper "Ubaldo Fillol" won the 1978 World Cup with his country.

What he overlooks is the realization that most of the players in the game in the presence of military dictatorships on the football field, that this iron fist will sooner or later, regardless of their severity. The black magic of the ball will turn on you if you believe in it.

Now we know the positions of all sides of the game, except for the most important party: the audience. Do you remember the scene in which we started our story? Yes, goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol with the two old women in the 1978 World Cup Final, 40 years after that event.

This was one of the episodes of a series of the Argentine magazine "Papelitos". A series that collected 78 stories from the suspicious World Cup. Each story brings together two sides: one of them is a participant in the World Cup, and the other suffered from harsh repression during the World Cup.

The first lady was 24 years old at the time of the World Cup, and she lost her husband, who was forcibly disappeared by Fidela's forces just before the start of the World Cup. This lady says that her father and siblings were searching for her husband in the morning, and enthusiastically cheering the Argentine national team at night, which was surprising her.

"I remember my dad would never allow a game to be missed and I couldn't even watch because the only thing I could think of was my husband's disappearance. I lived in grief because we knew so many things were being covered up at the World Cup."

Argentine lady Graciela Luis.

The second lady went through a similar circumstance when she was 22 years old. She lost her son and daughter during the World Cup, and her family members were also eagerly watching the World Cup despite the circumstances surrounding them.

David Yallop did not exaggerate when he described this dark side of the game as black magic, as the game that makes a person forget an offense from his family for 90 minutes is considered a treasure for military dictatorships, especially with emotional peoples such as the peoples of Latin America.

Argentina is not alone

This Argentine case was not the first of its kind, and of course, it was not the last. The matter has been repeated since the 1938 World Cup when Mussolini practiced the same thing with the players of the Italian national team, up to the current ruling regimes in the world.

A vicious circle that everyone revolves around and leads to the same results. In Egypt, for example, about three years after the arrival of the current regime, it began to think of football as a way to improve its image after accusations of violent violations of the human rights file. Three years is the same period between Videla reigning in power in Argentina and organizing the 1978 World Cup.

Great government interest in the Egyptian national team in the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon, and the presence of the Egyptian president most of the tournament matches with the public in front of giant screens in Aswan. Then a government publication of the scene of Egypt's rise to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Then another government was issued by the head of state, the prime minister, the minister of defense, and the chief of staff of the Egyptian army at the African Nations Cup camp in Egypt in 2019.

Then the black magic stage began. The players and elements of the game as a whole are separate from reality. They are relatively oblivious to what is happening around them and to take a brave moral stand - and they are not obligated to do so, by the way. Then the magic turns on them, as I saw in the crisis of Mohamed Salah with his famous image on the national team plane heading to Russia, and behind him the president of the Zamalek club, who faced harsh marginalization against him after he was one of the tools of the same regime.

The crowd is also in that same vicious circle. Just as some relatives of the detainees were separated from the fascist reality within the 90 minutes during which the national team played in the World Cup, you find a large segment of the Egyptian public calling for a separation between sport and any humanitarian violations that occur in the country.

Carbon images are being repeated in the modern history of humanity since the game of football appeared, that game that possesses this black magic that is capable of separating a person from his reality as soon as the referee's whistle blows and until the end of the match.

We do not hope to change the convictions of the people in that space; Because it seems much more violent than our ability to persuade. But all we hope is that the day will come when the detainees in any country going through that state will tell how they felt while hearing the crowd's cries in the stands as part of their already past. Just as the detainees of the School of Naval Mechanics did in Argentina at the beginning of the new millennium.