Category Archives: Propaganda and Regime

Pinochet and the King of the square metre


Damiano Benzoni

On July 5th, 1950, Carlos Caszely was born in Santiago. A Chilean forward of Hungarian descent, he would win five league titles and three cups of Chile with Colo-Colo between 1970 and 1985. His ability in the box would gain him the nickname el Rey del metro cuadrado, the King of the square metre. In 1973 he played the Copa Libertadores final against Independiente: after two draws in Avellaneda and Santiago, the match was solved in a desempate in Montevideo. Independiente won 2-1, scoring the decider in extra-time, but Caszely had scored his side’s equaliser in the first half and became the competition’s top-scorer. He would play 49 times for the national team, scoring 29 goals. He was voted best player in the 1979 Copa América, when Chile lost in the final against Eugenio Morel and Julio César Romero’s Paraguay. At the 1974 World Cup, in the opening match against the hosting nation, West Germany, he became the first ever player to receive a red card, as the card system had just been introduced by FIFA. Continue reading

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Benghazi clashes, match moved to Tripoli

Photo: Michael Aron

Damiano Benzoni

Football normalisation in Libya encounters its first halt after the National team played its first International in two years on home soil on June 7th. The match against Togo scheduled at the Martyrs of February stadium in Benina, in the Benghazi region, on June 14th will be played in Tripoli instead after a protest against armed militias in the city of Benghazi turned into a clash between protesters and militias which took a death toll of 31. Similar protests took place, without incidents, in the rest of the country, under the slogan “Elections create legitimisation, arms create a dictatorship”. According to a Benghazian interviewed by William Wheeler of the Global Post, “what happened was tragic, but necessary—the only thing […] that [will] finally strip the mask off the militias masquerading as legitimate authorities”. Continue reading

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Tajikistan: All the president’s son’s men

Photo: Футбол Тоҷикистон

Damiano Benzoni

Rustam Èmomalī used to be a striker for two-time Tajik champions Istiķlol Dušanbe, a team of which he has been captain, president, owner and founder. In November 2010 he was named vice-president of the Tajik FA and later was unanimously voted president. He is part of the FIFA Committee for Development and is the representative of Tajikistan at the Asian Olympic Council. In 2011 he left his political party in order to take up a post as the head of the state customs agency department responsible for fighting smuggling and custom violations: a huge responsibility since Tajikistan is crossed by traffic of heroin and opiates coming from bordering Afghanistan. In the past he was a member of the Dušanbe city council, a counsellor for the State Committee on Investments and State Property, a member of the executive committee of the ruling party and a deputy chairman of the Youth Union – the organisation which took the place of the Soviet Komsomol. Rustam Èmomalī is the son of Èmomalī Rahmon, the authoritarian president of Tajikistan. According to some observers, he’s his designed heir. Continue reading

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Fistfights, kicks and the Ukrainian elections

Damiano Benzoni

From Euro 2012 to the elections: the big event for Ukraine, after the Spaniards won their Kiev final against Italy, has become the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 28th. It will be a crucial election for the Verchovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, and it will be played between the danger for electoral fraud and the tug of war played by the West and Russia on the former Soviet republic. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, at a conference in Jalta last week both parts put Ukraine back up against the wall. On one hand, the EU and the US are asking for a clear acceleration of the stagnating democratic progress of the country and for a solution to the situation of former prime minister Julija Tymošenko, whose imprisonment is seen as a move masterminded by president Viktor Janukovyč to sideline a dangerous political opponent. On the other hand Moscow, leveraging on the high energy costs Ukraine has to face, is trying to force Kiev into joining the Eurasiatic Union. Continue reading

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Olympic refugees

Damiano Benzoni

During the Parade of Nations he had carried the flag of his country with pride in front of the London Olympic Stadium. Few, seeing him, could have imagined that one Sunday morning Weynay Ghebresilasie, the flag-bearer of Eritrea, would leave the Olympic village to seek asylum at the UK Border Agency. A steeplechase runner, Ghebresilasie is only the last of a list of athletes who disappeared from the Olympic village. And while the Georgian judoka Betkil Shuk’vani, whose story we already featured, ran away in order to get back to his own country, seven Cameroonians, three Sudanese, four Congolese, three Ivorians, three Guineans and three other Eritreans made the choice to disappear and leave their country. The Olympic permits released by the UK Border Agency to the athletes and their families won’t expire until November 8th: only after such date does their permanence on British soil become illegal. LOCOG, the Games’ organising committee, underlined that, not having any of the athletes infringed any law or rule, it isn’t entitled to take any kind of measure against them. Continue reading

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Georgian Dream and Shuk’vani’s nightmare

Damiano Benzoni

A loss in a judo bout, a flight from the window and unbearable political pressure: the story of the Georgian judoka Betkil Shuk’vani may be the most eventful and politicised of the whole London Olympics. It’s quite difficult to establish the truth about what happened, as the two contending parts have divergent versions: the facts tell the story of an athlete who disappeared from the Olympic village in London only to reappear a fortnight later in Tbilisi. In a press conference, Shuk’vani accused the most important members of the country’s Olympic delegation of intimidation and pressure caused by his political affiliation. He told he escaped the village in order to avoid beatings by a member of the Georgian ministry of Sport and Youth Policies. The story was given coverage by the Italian version of the Russian news agency Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and by the Georgian website Ambebi. Continue reading

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