Argentina Football Team Go Political

Photo of author
Written By Saeed Maleki

diego-maradona-hand-of-godFIFA will initiate investigations in to the unfurling of a political banner by the Argentina national side in a friendly at the weekend.

The banner read ‘Las Malvinas Son Argentinas’ which, when translated says ‘The Falklands Are Argentine’.

The tired argument from the Argentines relating to the British Island just off their coast has received more coverage in the last two years after Prime Minister, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner raised the issue numerous times publicly.

Falklands War

The sovereignty debate was momentarily put to bed in the wake of the Falklands War, a war that was the result of an Argentine invasion of the islands in 1982. After a short but extremely brutal battle, the Argentines were forced to surrender after losing 649 servicemen. The UK lost 255 men too, however the superiority of the Navy and the weaponry at its disposal meant that the Argentines were never really in with much of a chance.

Despite the loss of the war, and the recent referendum where every resident of the Falklands voted on whether to remain British or not – the result was 1513 in favour, and just three against – Argentina still have their eyes on the islands which were British colonies long before the South American nation was even established as a country.

The Argentina football side have displayed similar banners before, however there is little worldwide interest in the fortunes of the national team, it is only with the World Cup on the horizon that any coverage has been given to this political stance.

FIFA has set precedent before in terms of not allowing political standpoints to be exhibited on the football field, and there are calls from certain sections of the sport for Argentina to be banned from the upcoming tournament in Brazil, although this sanction would seem extremely unlikely.

The vast majority of Argentines want the Falklands to be under Argentina control, and it represents one of the biggest issues currently going on in the country.

We Are Not Friends

Relations between the English and Argentina have always been pretty far from OK, the bad blood of the Falklands has often spilt over onto the football pitch with many heated and controversial meetings between the two sides since the 1982 war. Perhaps the most high profile incident was just four years later, when Maradona produced the ‘Hand of God’ goal (pictured) to eliminate England in the quarter finals of the World Cup in Mexico.

Later in 1998 Diego Simeone incited David Beckham into a reactionary flick of the leg which resulted in the Argentine’s rather embarrassing ‘Platoon-esque’ moment to get the former Manchester United superstar sent off, the Argentines went on to win on penalties despite England’s dominance.

Beckham banished all memories of that game 4 years later when he scored the winner from the penalty spot as England captain. If the two sides meet in this year’s competition, there will undoubtedly be more fireworks on display.