Wednesday, July 04, 2018

The Eternal Shame on Scottish Football

A Chilean court on Tuesday convicted nine former soldiers for the 1973 murder of Chile's most famous folk singer, Victor Jara. The eight accused were sentenced to 15 years and one day for the murders and a further three years for kidnapping. The ninth was given five years and a day for being an accessory to the murders and 61 days for his role as an accessory to kidnappings.

Jara was held with about 5,000 others in the capital's biggest football stadium where he was interrogated, tortured and then killed. An officer thought he recognized Victor Jara, pointed at him with a questioning look and motioning as if strumming a guitar. Victor nodded. He was seized, taken to the center of the stadium and told to put his hands on a table. While his friends watched in horror, rifle butts beat his hands to a bloody pulp.
 "All right, sing for us now, you ****," shouted the officer. 

Jara's body was found some days later with 44 machinegun bullets.

 On the road to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, Scotland played a warm-up game against Chile and played in that very same blood-soaked stadium. Russia had earlier forfeited their place in the 1974 World Cup Finals by refusing to play a qualifying match against Chile, yet the mandarins of the Scottish Football Association and the Scotland team members, supported by football's 90-minute nationalists insisted - no politics in sport. Officials of the SFA even refused to meet a delegation of three former prisoners of the Chilean military regime who called at their headquarters in Glasgow. And in a poll of its members, the Scottish Players Association found that about 70 per cent of Scottish professional footballers voted in favour of the national team playing Chile in June. Only ten per cent were opposed.

Blood Upon The Grass

September the eleventh
In Nineteen seventy-three
Scores of people perished
In a vile machine-gun spree
Santiago stadium
Became a place to kill
But a Scottish football team
Will grace it with their skill
And there's blood upon the grass
And there's blood upon the grass

Will you go there, Alan Rough
Will you play there, Tom Forsyth
Where so many folk met early
The Grim Reaper with his scythe
These people weren't terrorists
They weren't Party hacks
But some were maybe goalkeepers
And some were centre backs
And there's blood upon the grass
And there's blood upon the grass

Victor Jara played guitar
As he was led into the ground
Then they broke all of his fingers
So his strings no more could sound
Still he kept on singing
Songs of freedom, songs of peace
And though they gunned him down
His message doesn't cease
And there's blood upon the grass
And there's blood upon the grass

Will you go there, Archie Gemmill
Will you play there, Andy Gray
Will it trouble you to hear the voice
Of Victor Jara say
Somos cinquo mille -
We are five thousand in this place
And Scottish football helps to hide
The Junta's dark disgrace
And there's blood upon the grass
And there's blood upon the grass

Do you stand upon the terracing
At Ibrox or Parkhead
Do you cheer the Saints in black and white
The Dons in flaming red
All those who died in Chile
Were people of your kind
Let's tell the football bosses
That it's time they changed their mind
Before there's blood upon their hands

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