by Manuel Rivas
Originally published in El País on 24 May 2012
Translated by Seth Brooks
There are very surprising paradoxes. This is how my disheveled colleague Stanislaw Lec expresses it: “The dead man was very existentialist.”
But this is nothing like the ontological question, the heart of existentialist philosophy, compared with the following question:
–Can you support the promotion of Celta de Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna at the same time and not be crazy? Can you congratulate both teams after victories, as long as they play against other teams?
Within the area where we are, with the fundamental hope of the promotion to the first division of the top two Galician teams, these questions appear. Even the answer, in theory, seems easy. It’s obvious. “Man, it would be ideal that both teams go up, if only because it would guarantee a derby, the emotion of a rivalry.”
We can even take the intellectual challenge further, to psycho-emotional frontiers never explored by Freud nor Lacan:
–Can you support Deportivo and Celta at the same time?
It’s possible, but impossible. And being possible, why is it impossible? Because besides being impossible, it can not be.
I consulted philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists, forensics, divers, bakers, firefighters, and even a podiatrist, since several of the respondents made me see that having those questions was like walking on calluses. I found out that Galicia does take sides in this matter, and that is clearly divided into two camps, though one also supports their local side. For example, it’s compatible to support Celta and Compostela, as it is to support Pontevedra and Deportivo. Ferrol supporters are rarely Coruña supporters, but those from Lugo do go to Riazor, like those from Villalba. But in Ourense they are all for Celta, except for some dilettante. What can never be possible is to support both Celta and Deportivo, or vice versa. Man, you could be vice versa, but it is also impossible. And another curious detail: the people in these surveys do not answer at all, they do not know how to answer, in this case they stick their neck out with a nautical enthusiasm, even the most radical are the same. The only thing that was the same everywhere, north and south, east and west, was to answer my questions with another question: “And then what you do want?”.
–For me, yes. Both of them go up.
–What you had to do was write about culture in the culture section, where you go for those are not worth anything.
–Football is also culture!
–That was not the point of the Rexurdimento, with the master Caneda.
A Galician is strained by the topic because of the contrast, because it is amphibious, by being one thing and the opposite, by maintaining that God is good but Satan is not bad, by taking one step forward and two back, and by agreeing and disagreeing. And the adjective “Galician”, as a way of being political, as used by the commentators in Madrid, has that meaning like a glove which serves both for the right hand and the left. But the same cliché of uncertainty is cast upon football. In Galicia, one can find all kinds of research of vanguard and syncretism. There are lay Catholics, there is magic punk, there are Opus Gay, there are polyglot monolinguals … but I think this mix of opposites makes a country more permissive in its customs and also fertilizes a space of brave artistic creations where the “stereotypical other side” emerges.
What there is not–neither as a provocative, theoretical syncretism–is a Celta-Deportivo sentiment nor Deportivo-Celta. It is true that it existed at the dawn of local football, and this is seen in the colors of the two teams which are the same as the Galician flag. That is to say, the precursors, the republican Galicians of Xeración Nós, were able to applaud the two teams. Of course, one does not imagine Don Ramón Otero Pedrayo messing with the mother of the referee. He also would not be called fillo do carneiro. In any case, “Contumax! Indoctus “.
Now I met with sensible people, even Marxist critics of the Frankfurt School, who at the time, looked at me sideways and answered without hesitation, with fire in their tongue:
–Look, Rivas. You know what is means to be a Deportivo supporter. What do you really want to know? He is happy when Depor wins, but what he really enjoys is that Celta loses.
But I heard it this was not an exclusive syndrome to Coruña. I had the same conversation, word for word, in Vigo. A Celta supporting friend told me, “Man, what I want is Celta to win, but what is more pleasurable, or what gives me the most pleasure, like something erotic or that makes my hair stand up, is when Deportivo loses”.
I will look for Galicians that they feel the Atlantic cities as one, without borders or localism. They exist. They feel just as good in Monte Alto as in Lavadores. They exist. They are proud of the best builders of ships, which have been forced into unemployment by the austerity of Brussels. They exist. Who want public healthcare here and there. Who want their taxes are used to improve schools and universities. They exist, of course. Those fighting in Galiñeiro Sierra to be the largest natural park of the south are the same as those fighting for the sanitation of the Burgo estuary, which was a source of wealth, the best seafood, according to the French tourism guides from the belle epoque. They exist and perhaps they are the majority.
There is also someone that exists who thinks that one can support Celta and Deportivo at the same time. But that person is foolish like me.
Fucking hell. It is true that football is football