Johan Cruyff: How Can You Play Soccer Next to a Torture Center?


JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  TeleSUR
24 March 2016

cruyff 1Cruyff was the star of the Holland team of the 1970s which invented the style of “Total Football.” | Photo: AFP

Cruyff dazzled fans with this trickery and rejected Argentina’s brutal dictatorship in an unmatched soccer career.

Johan Cruyff, one of the greatest soccer players of his generation, and perhaps ever, missed the 1978 FIFA World Cup held in Argentina as he didn’t want to play close to the torture chambers the right-wing government had set up to house dissidents of the regime.

RELATED: Johan Cruyff Father of Modern Day Soccer Dies Aged 68

Dictatorship in Argentina

“How can you play soccer a thousand meters from a torture center?” he is quoted as saying before the tournament.

The South American nation was in turmoil at the time of the competition after a right-wing coup, led by General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera…

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Race, film about athlete Jesse Owens


This october 2015 video from the USA is called Race Official Trailer #1 (2016) Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis Biographical Drama Movie HD.

By Alan Gilman and David Walsh in the USA:

Race: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics

10 March 2016

Directed by Stephen Hopkins; written by Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse

Race chronicles the storied athletic career of Jesse Owens, which culminated in his four gold medal performance at the 1936 Nazi-sponsored Berlin Olympics.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins, the film begins in 1933 with a young Owens (Stephan James) arriving at Ohio State University to run track. Owens is immediately confronted with racial bigotry, particularly from members of the all-white football team.

His track coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), recognizes Owens as an extraordinary talent. Snyder impresses on the youthful athlete that if he demonstrates single-minded, fanatical focus he will be unstoppable, not only on the college level, but also at the 1936 Olympic Games to be held in Berlin.

Owens follows Snyder’s advice, despite the pressures of fatherhood (he has a baby daughter with his girlfriend, Ruth Solomon (Shanice Branton). He quickly becomes a top collegiate track athlete, and in 1935 at a meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan performs the astonishing feat of breaking three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220 low hurdles) and tying a fourth (100-yard dash) in 45 minutes. This is widely considered one of the greatest single-day performances in athletic history.

Meanwhile, a campaign is underway within the American Olympic Committee, led by Judge Jeremiah Mahoney (William Hurt), to boycott the Berlin Games because of Nazi racism and anti-Semitism.

Avery Brundage (Jeremy Irons), a builder and real estate developer, and future International Olympic Committee president, leads the anti-boycott forces. Brundage shrugs off Germany’s anti-Semitic and racial issues, “It’s not our place to tell a sovereign nation what to do, and besides, when was the last time any of you nay-voters socialized with a Jew or a Negro?”

To help resolve this dispute Brundage agrees to embark on a fact-finding mission to Germany and meets with Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat), the Nazi propaganda minister, who “promises” the Germans will not discriminate against any athlete, including Jews. With this agreement in hand, Brundage is able to defeat the boycott forces by a vote of 58 to 56.

Later, during the Olympics, when the Germans break their promise not to discriminate, Goebbels quickly puts an end to Brundage’s feeble protests by threatening to expose a commercial agreement—essentially a bribe—the two parties have entered into.

Other groups, including the NAACP, continue to support boycotting the Olympics, and place pressure on Owens. Ultimately, with the support of his family, he decides to go to the 1936 Games.

In Berlin, Owens is surprised to find that within the Olympic Village the American athletes are housed in integrated housing, something that never occurred in the US. Outside the Olympic venue, however, we see scenes of Jews being beaten and rounded up by the Nazis.

Owens proceeds to win four gold medals, in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter race, long jump and 400-meter relay. He is the most successful, and wildly popular, athlete at the Games and is credited with having delivered a devastating blow to the Nazi myth of “Aryan supremacy.”

In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, German long jumper Carl “Luz” Long (David Kross), the European champion, befriends Owens. After Owens fouls on the first two of his three attempts to qualify for the long jump, Long marks a spot several inches in front of the takeoff board, pointing out to Owens that if he takes off from there he will still jump far enough to qualify. Owens does just that and then goes on to defeat Long, who wins the silver medal.

Long is the first to congratulate Owens after the event, shaking his hand. The pair pose for photos and run a victory lap together.

That evening Long explains to Owens that he detests the Nazis for what they are doing and that many other Germans feel the same. At the end of Race there is an acknowledgement that Owens and Long continued their friendship for several more years and that the German athlete was killed in Sicily during World War II.

Owens’ last race is the 4 x 100 relay, an event that he has not trained for and is not scheduled to run. He participates because the team’s only two Jewish athletes, Marty Glickman (Jeremy Ferdman) and Sam Stoller (Giacomo Gianniotti), are benched at the last minute, on the demand of the German authorities. (Glickman went on to become one of the most prominent and talented American sportscasters in the postwar period, the voice of several New York sports teams, only retiring in 1992.)

As the film ends, a title notes that Owens was never invited to the White House or congratulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

There are some valuable elements and moving moments in Race. The story of Owens’ accomplishments, in the face of considerable odds, inevitably touches on some significant historical questions.

Jesse Owens was the youngest of 10 children born to Mary Emma Fitzgerald and Henry Cleveland Owens, a sharecropper, in Oakville, Alabama. His impoverished family took part in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West, moving to Cleveland’s east side in the early 1920s. Owens’ father and older brother worked in steel mills, the former only irregularly.

As the result of his athletic prowess, Owens stumbled onto the stage of world politics in the 1930s. The opposition of Avery Brundage, head of the Olympic movement in the US, to a boycott of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, held under the aegis of the Nazi regime, had a significant ideological and political content.

Historian Carolyn Marvin explains that the foundation of Brundage’s world outlook “was the proposition that Communism was an evil before which all other evils were insignificant.” His other views or beliefs included “admiration for Hitler’s apparent restoration of prosperity and order to Germany,” the conception “that those who did not work for a living in the United States were an anarchic human tide, and a suspicious anti-Semitism which feared the dissolution of Anglo-Protestant culture in a sea of ethnic aspirations.” Brundage described opposition to American participation in Berlin as a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy.”

The vile machinations of the Hitler regime in regard to the Olympics are also part of the historical record. The leading Nazi newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, editorialized in the strongest terms that no Jews or blacks from any country should be permitted to compete. Faced with the possibility of an international boycott, however, the Nazi government relented, even adding one token participant, a female fencer with a Jewish father, to the German team.

The fascist regime also temporarily took down signs denouncing Jews from areas of Berlin where visitors were likely to see them. The German Ministry of the Interior instructed the city’s police to round up all Romani as part of a “clean up” and place them in a concentration camp. Pro-Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl was in charge of filming the Olympics (she is portrayed ambiguously in Race by Carice van Houten), and produced her grandiose two-part documentary, Olympia (1938).

Racism and the Depression in the US, fascism and anti-communism, the run-up to the Second World War … big issues all of them.

Hopkins’ Race refers directly to a few of these questions, hints at others and merely side-steps another category.

The film suffers from a generally formulaic approach. James and Branton as Jesse Owens and Ruth Solomon are given little dramatic room to breathe. Their conventional, roller-coaster relationship does not shed much light on their personalities or the nature of the times. Nor does Owens’ affair with a woman he meets on the road as a now-famous athlete or his relations with his coach help out much. There is something hagiographic about the presentation of Owens in particular, although certain of his failings come in for treatment.

The general dramatic arc of Race is predictable—initial difficulties, first successes, crisis and failure, final triumph. Even if the viewer did not know ahead of time how Owens would ultimately fare in Berlin, he or she would have little difficulty in seeing what was coming.

Sudeikis is more impressive as Snyder. The actor-comic has performed amusingly in a number of works, but smugness (for example, in the Horrible Bosses films) has threatened to sabotage his efforts. Here he is relatively convincing as Owens’ hard-driven, but fair-minded coach. Irons is always on the mark, although the portrayal of Brundage is not as devastating as it might have been. Kross (The Reader) is memorable as Luz Long, as is Metschurat as the menacing, monstrous Goebbels and Andrew Moodie, in a small part, as Owens’ long-suffering father.

To its credit, the film is not laced with identity politics, but a more “old fashioned” liberal humanism. Race, despite its title, preaches a sort of solidarity of Jews, blacks and anti-Nazi Germans against Hitler and pro-fascist Americans.

There are distinct limitations to this approach. Hopkins’ presentation of various racist and anti-Semitic incidents, although moving, is largely devoid of any historical content or deeper understanding of the social forces involved.

The weakest aspect of Race is its attitude to the various questions of political or moral principle that arise: the first involves US participation or boycott of the Berlin Olympics; the second, Owens’ decision to go or stay home; and, finally, the exclusion of the Jewish athletes from the relay race and the response of the rest of the American Olympic team.

In each case, Hopkins and screenwriters Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse create justifications for the various, often self-serving decisions taken by the characters, thus allowing the narrative to move forward toward its inexorable conclusion.

Somali woman athlete, drowned off Libya


This video is called Samia Yusuf Omar @ 2008 Beijing Olympics.

By Michal Boncza in Britain:

Dream graphically denied

Tuesday 8th March 2016

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar
by Reinhard Kleist
(SelfMadeHero, £14.99)

IN APRIL 2012 news broke that Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, who had made history four years earlier at the Beijing games, had drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.

In Beijing she came last in the first round heat in the 200 metres but won a rousing standing ovation. Attired in casual leggings and a baggy T-shirt, her slight body and long stride became a symbol of extraordinary determination and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

But, most importantly, they were also a dismal reflection on the haves and have-nots of international athletics and, by implication, its entire governance.

Back in Somalia, with scant official support and facing harassment and intimidation by al-Shabaab fundamentalist thugs, she took the futile advice of looking to train in Ethiopia and later Djibouti. That set her on a migratory path to Libya with the hope of making it to Europe in time to train for the London Olympics.

Travelling overland with similarly desperate souls, all victims of ruthless, money-grubbing and abusive people-traffickers, she was thrust with them into unseaworthy vessels at gun-point. They were pushed out to sea to fend for themselves.

Reinhard Kleist, author of the memorable graphic biography Castro reviewed glowingly in the Morning Star, is — as this book shows — at the peak of his creative endeavour. This visual narrative that immortalises Omar is rendered with breathtaking vigour and passion. The draughtsmanship is masterly, with every brush stroke eloquently descriptive and invoking admiration, pity and often revulsion.

Kleist knows better than most how pictures are worth thousands of words and the story of the runner has the urgency of her dash to make it in time for the dream of a second Olympics.

But his words are equally weighted and to the point when evoking human aspiration and solidarity or even the vilest inhumanity.

At a time when the French authorities have decided to investigate the shenanigans within the Olympics movement and thousands will be forced into rickety boats off Libyan and Turkish coasts, Kleist holds an uncompromising and unsentimental mirror to the West’s ugly face.

Compulsory reading for every secondary-school pupil, anywhere.

Western powers prepare military operations in Libya: here.

Syrian refugee footballer sees professional match again


Ramy Guneat at international women's match The Netherlands-Switzerland, photo by Lieke Lamb

Translated from Dutch daily Metro:

Tears of happiness of refugee professional soccer player in ADO stadium

March 3, 2016 at 11:53 by Johan van Boven

The lighting columns, the stands, the cheering fans, the pitch, the players and the rolling ball. Ramy Guneat could not stop himself from crying this Wednesday because of the atmosphere in the stadium of ADO in The Hague. Tears of happiness, says the 29-year-old refugee from Syria who attended the match between the Dutch women’s football team and Switzerland.

That was a match for qualification for the Olympic Games football in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The Netherlands won the match, four goals against three.

The civil war in his homeland ended his career as a professional footballer. Guneat was under contract with AL-Karamah SC, a big club from his hometown Homs. “But two years ago the situation was so bad that I wanted nothing more than to escape,” he said in English, plus the occasional few words in Dutch. “Explosions everywhere. Also the area around our stadium was hit severely”.

Boat

So Guneat left his family and crossed the border to Turkey, where he crossed on a small boat to Greece. He then embarked on a long journey to the Netherlands. He points his finger to the palm of his hand, which serves as the map of Europe. “First I went to Macedonia, then to Serbia and Hungary. Eventually I came here, which is now about five months ago.”

Large parts of the route he traveled on foot, interspersed with bus rides. “I was on my way never really afraid, starvation was the worst. Hungary was not a nice country, the people there were very unfriendly. Very bad! Many people were angry at us and the police have arrested a number of refugees and thrown them in jail. When that happened, we stood together as a group. I was lucky that I was somewhere in the middle of that group, otherwise they would have jailed me.”

Emergency shelter

In the Netherlands, he arrived in the reception center in Haarlem, now he is staying in an emergency shelter in Duinrell. There he must wait until he gets refugee status and then again relocate to a refugee center elsewhere in the country.

Besides Guneat stands Lieke Lamb. She teaches in Duinrell Dutch lessons to refugees and had a spare ticket for the match Switzerland-The Netherlands (3-4) in the stadium of ADO Den Haag. “I knew that one of my students had a friend who in Syria used to be a professional footballer. So I asked Ramy whether he would like to go to a women’s football match.”…

He starts to laugh. “I really liked it, especially the number 10 I think was very good,” he refers to [Dutch international player] Danielle van de Donk. “Yet it also hurts a little to see people kick a ball.” He himself has not played any game for two years. At least not at the professional level.

He begins to swipe busily on his phone. Guneat conjures pictures and videos of a football match between a team of refugees and the amateurs of Blauw Zwart. “That was last week in Wassenaar. Look, this is when we played a match in the stadium of HFC Haarlem. Do you see the number 14? That’s me!”

In the Netherlands, he would prefer to find a job in the sports sector. But his biggest dream is to return to a peaceful Syria. “Then I will be able to play football again for my club.”

As growing numbers of refugees flee imperialist wars in the Middle East, the EU is preparing draconian attacks on democratic rights to prevent them from coming to Europe: here.

The commander of NATO armed forces said Tuesday that Russia, Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were using the refugees streaming out of Syria into Europe as weapons against European countries. Using more restrained language than Donald Trump or European neo-fascists attacking refugees from Syria, US General Philip Breedlove voiced a similar opinion, declaring, “Europe faces the daunting challenge of mass migration spurred by state instability and state collapse, a migration that masks the movement of criminals, terrorists, and foreign fighters”: here.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to justify her policy of erecting new walls around “Fortress Europe” with humanitarian phrases—most recently in a Sunday talk show. On Tuesday, she adopted a very different tone. At a press conference with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković in Berlin, she commented on the refugee crisis in Greece and the Balkans with the brutality associated with Christian Social Union (CSU) leader Horst Seehofer, or officials of the nationalist AfD (Alternative for Germany): here.

VVSB amateur footballers lose cup semifinal against FC Utrecht


This 1 March 2016 Dutch video is about the last training of the Noordwijkerhout amateur footballers of VVSB at their home ground; before playing the Dutch cup semifinal tonight against the FC Utrecht professionals in Utrecht.

18 minutes before the end of the match it was still zero goals each. In the last eighteen minutes, FC Utrecht made three goals. So, they will play the final.

VVSB amateur against professional football, women’s football update


This 1 March 2016 Dutch video is about the small town Noordwijkerhout wishing its football club VVSB success in the Dutch cup semifinals.

Tonight, the amateur football players of VVSB in small town Noordwijkerhout play against premier league professionals FC Utrecht, in the Utrecht stadium.

At half time now, still no goals by anyone.

Two thousand VVSB supporters went by bus to Utrecht. Oner of the VVSB players had forgotten his football shoes. So, a policeman on a motorbike brought them to the stadium.

Also tonight, the Dutch women’s football team won 4 against 3 goals against the Swiss team. In a match which is part of qualifying for the Olympic football competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Dutch amateur VVSB footballers in cup semifinal tonight


This 1 March 2016 music video is from the Dutch small town Noordwijkerhout. The song was written especially by local pub owner Pieter van der Geest, for local amateur football club VVSB; which will play tonight in Utrecht city against premier league professionals FC Utrecht, in the semifinals of the Dutch football cup.

The song is called Ga met de Bavo mee; Go with Bavo. The full name of VVSB is Football Club Saint Bavo, as the club was originally founded by workers of local Saint Bavo psychiatric hospital in 1931.

VVSB got so far in the Dutch cup competition, very rare for amateur footballers, by beating another professional club, FC Den Bosch.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that journalists from foreign countries have gone to Noordwijkerhout to watch VVSB train. Including from the USA, Spain and the Italian La Gazetta Dello Sport.

This video shows how on 6 February 2016 the Noordwijkerhout carnival society celebrated the victory of VVSB against FC Den Bosch.

The local confectioner’s sells cakes in yellow and purple, the VVSB colours.

VVSB gloves

There are also 200 purple and yellow gloves for fans to wear at the match in the stadium tonight.