Coming into this week, I read “While the World Watched”, where Wright Thompson uncovers the dark history circulating Argentina and its first World Cup victory in 1978.
“In the stadium, the dictators leaped into the air when the game ended. Millions leaped with them — We are human and we are right! — because winning the World Cup felt like victory over their own fears about what they’d created.” (Thompson 2014)
With the World Cup being held in Argentina in 1978, it presented itself as a valuable chess piece for the dictators that ruled the country at the time. That was evident when the military regime moderated the World Cup from beginning to end, so much so that they possibly rigged one match in Argentina’s favor in their route to the title. When Argentina ultimately won it all that year, it was seen as a victory, not just for the football team, but also for the dictators; for it allowed them to be able to keep their troubles under the rug.
“Lewin never watches soccer, and every four years during the World Cup she works hard to avoid televisions and the rabid citizens crowded around them, full of tension and joy.” (Thompson 2014)
This quote really stuck with me upon reading Thompson’s piece. When I think of the World Cup, I see it as more than just a major sporting event; I see it as a time where the world can be united as one. As an event that can have many positive connotations, many Argentines, like Miriam Lewin, however cannot see it in that light after what they experienced as survivors of inhumane treatment more than thirty years ago. While the World Cup is a time for many to celebrate and root for their nation, it is a time for Lewin to fight back against the nightmarish memories that linger back from 1978.
“He grabbed her hand. Lewin lost control. Frantic, she exploded, hitting him, desperate to escape. Every other desire receded.” (Thompson 2014)
This incident described by the quote is an example of the pain that survivors continue to feel after having survived the merciless torture at the hands of the dictator-led military regime more than three decades ago. Throughout this piece, Thompson uses these incidents to remind the reader that the wounds these survivors first suffered long ago remain unhealed to this day and to allow the audience to get a sense of how truly awful the military treated those that they kidnapped and imprisoned.
This was, by far, the most powerful reading I have come across in this course and is one that I believe is a must-read for all sports fans, especially fans of football.