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Bolivia's Major English Language Publication

Issue 40

Cover

Editorial by Michael Dunn

‘Si no lo sientes, no lo entiendes’ -‘If you can’t feel it, you don’t understand it’-, goes the saying used by local football fans to explain why some people simply aren’t able to join in the passion for the world’s most popular sport. What makes Bolivian football fans stand out from the rest? Quite simply, their ability to swallow every bitter defeat throughout our history to enjoy and celebrate those few victories (and even draws) we have as if we were world fucking champions.

When you try to think back at Bolivia’s triumphs in football at either the national or club level, there are only a handful to remember. The 1963 Copa America Championship, the glorious qualification to the 1994 World Cup, and the most recent 6-1 defeat of Argentina stand out, without a doubt, as the golden moments of our National Team.

Yet in recent years Bolivian football has entered a dark age. Today, Bolivian football is as volatile as a three-headed dragon. It’s customary for local fans to lament ‘jugamos como nunca perdimos como siempre’ - ‘we played like never before but we lost just as we always do’.

National football is simultaneously run by the Bolivian Football Federation, The Bolivian League and The Bolivian Football Association. Instead of working together, each body fails to organize competitive teams, and train talented youngsters into dedicated professionals, further deepening this national crisis.

The result of such disorganization? Bolivia ended up second to last in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. All three entities may have sworn to ensure the and progress and well-being of Bolivian football, but instead, all they appear to do is fight for their own economic gain. While we still cherish and celebrate the glorious moments of yesteryear and believe that better and brighter days will come, our present situation shows no indication of changing any time soon.

Despite all this, fans and their passion remain strong. At the beginning of every World Cup qualifier or international tournament, fans get their cábalas ready and hopes begin to soar. We start chanting those songs we learned when we were kids. And even when we don’t get anywhere near the world’s centre-stage, we are still content to open a Paceña, sit back, and enjoy the World Cup from afar.

From national football icons to amateur leagues playing in dirt pitches, this issue takes you on a journey through the history, passion and nostalgia in Bolivian football. No matter how difficult and complicated a game may be, a true fan will cheer their team on til’ the game’s last minute. And trust us, Bolivians know all there is to know about ‘difficult’ and ‘complicated’. Like true love, passion for football is unconditional.

Arte_para_web

Articles from the latest issue of Bolivian Express

The white spots of the Evo-lucion

04 July, 2014, Katharina von Sohlern

Katharina von Sohlern examines recent disputes within Bolivia’s Armed Forces to understand some of the pending reforms missing from Evo Morales’ administration There’s no doubt about it, Evo Morales has changed the face of modern Bolivia. Since his election as the first indigenous president in 2006, the former coca farmer ...

LA ALTURA: BOLIVIA´S 12TH PLAYER ON THE PITCH?

25 June, 2014, Tommy Walters

As Club Bolívar take on San Lorenzo for the semi-finals of the Copa de Libertadores on 30th July, the longstanding question of an apparent 'altitude advantage' is yet again brought to the surface. This debate has been at the centre of a notorious footballing contretemps between Bolivia and Argentina. Visitors ...

SETTLING THE SPORT

25 June, 2014, Tommy Walters

The struggle for Women's football to be recognised in Bolivia Football is an integral part of Bolivian society, and this goes just as much for women’s football as it does for men’s. Festival tournaments bring women to the pitches even on national and religious holidays. However, something seems to be ...

HUARIKASAYA KALATAKAYA

25 June, 2014, Valeria Wilde

Sitting in the living room of the Bolivian Express house, I am surrounded by Bolivaristas. Worried that this issue will be disproportionately contaminated by white and light blue, I feel a certain responsibility to somehow bring to life the name, the colours and the feelings that have been with me ...

FUTSAL: THE MINIATURE VERSION OF FOOTBALL

25 June, 2014, Ollie Vargas

Bolivia is known for not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup since 1994, when it was eliminated in the group stage. The country is far better known in the world of futsal, or indoor football, coming third in the 2003 AMF Futsal World Cup. In fact, in La Paz, the ...

LOS SIETE LIGAS: BOLIVIA´S UNOFFICIAL PROFESSIONALS

25 June, 2014, Leo Nelson-Jones

Bolivia, and especially La Paz, is home to a unique and vibrant setup of footballing leagues. Neither entirely professional nor fully amateur, these informal but well-organised competitions have given rise to Los Siete Ligas. In this article, Leo Nelson-Jones explores the unique nature of the phenomena of these players and ...

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME

25 June, 2014, Inske Groenen

The importance of football in Bolivia is in no way proportional to the country’s achievements in the sport throughout history. Despite being a country that only holds a single Copa América title and has only once qualified for the FIFA World Cup, the game is still able to stir the ...

A MINING OLIGARCH IN FOOTBALL

25 June, 2014, Inske Groenen

Earth's riches join the game The big pyramid-shaped mountain overlooking Potosí has always had its power over the city. The silver coming from this Cerro Rico –rich hill– once brought unbelievable wealth to Spain and made Potosí a city similar in size to London and Paris. Nowadays, many people have ...

THE DEVELOPMENT AND FUTURE OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IN BOLIVIA

25 June, 2014, Tommy Walters, François Schollaert Paz

Today, South America produces some of the best football players in the world. Such is its footballing success that Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, FIFA’s president, pointed to South America as the ‘Old Continent’ of football. In Bolivia, however, professional football finds itself at a significantly lower level than in many other ...

TAHUICHI: MUCH MORE THAN A FOOTBALL ACADEMY

25 June, 2014, Ander Zarraga

‘Roly, with the Tahuchi Academy, has revolutionized the world of children’s football’, famed Brazilian football star Pelé said about the dream of engineer Rolando Aguilera Pareja, who wanted to provide to children the opportunity to realize their dreams of playing football and thrive in other areas of their lives. So ...

EVO

25 June, 2014, Alex Walker

A politician who plays football, or a footballer who plays at politics? In 2010, a bitterly-fought charity match was played between two teams, one of them led by Bolivian President Evo Morales and the other by La Paz Mayor Luis Revilla—a man whose MSM party had recently joined sides with ...

BECKHAM FOR BOLÍVAR

25 June, 2014, Alex Walker

It was rumoured in May that David Beckham might emerge from his footballing retirement for Bolívar’s Copa Libertadores semi-final. With the club’s reigning oligarch Marcelo Claure later dismissing this idea as just ‘an illusion’, the club was left with a lingering sense of déjà-vu: in 1994, Bolívar offered Maradona US$1 ...