Image John Russo.
© Esquire Latinoamerica.
"When we did the press conference in Madrid for the play Purgatorio, issues like the Germans and the Second World War came up. We were talking about forgiveness, because the question the play asks is: could you, could I forgive anything? In principle, we should be able to do it, but if someone kidnapped or killed your son, would you be able to forgive them, even though that person might not have repented? To me, it seems most Christian to say 'Yes, you can. There´s no obligation, but it can be done.' And among many other things, I mentioned ETA, and you wouldn´t believe what came down on me [laughs]. To me, the most Christian thing there is is forgiveness without conditions. And I told them there, and I also told them that sometimes the most Catholic, most conservative ones, are the ones opposed to that forgiveness. They told me, 'No, sir, in the Catholic Church you have to speak about repentance so there can be forgiveness.' And it could be that it´s technically right, but it doesn´t seem very Christian to me.
People were taking what I had said out of context depending on their political point of view. Some were saying, 'Viggo is pro-ETA. He is an etarra [trans. note: a [member of ETA] because he says ETA should be forgiven,' and others were saying, 'No, Viggo says that the government should be forgiven.' I was saying both things [laughs]: ETA has to forgive and you have to forgive ETA, without conditions. 'What do you mean without conditions?!' I´m not saying they shouldn´t go to jail, but they also can be forgiven in the heart, in the soul.
If we don't talk about these things - with respect and good manners, and informing ourselves as well as possible - they get worse and worse, darker. There are more misunderstandings and problems. As in any relationship, the things that aren't talked about come out later in another way.
I´m interested in the ideas that lie behind almost all religions. Deep down there aren´t many differences in the good things, like treating your neighbour as you would like to be treated, respecting people, helping those in need, brotherhood, and even treating the earth and animals right. There are many religions that have the same ideas, but at the moment they are written down as law, as rules of behaviour, they become dead words, meaningless, unless someone gives them life with honest acts. And based on those rules, everybody quarrels, kills, doing each other more harm than good.
What scares us, almost without exception, is what we don´t know. It seems to me this is the cause of racism, stupid fights between followers of different religions or athletic teams or any other thing. It´s the ignorance, fear of the other, toward the other.
I'm for San Lorenzo de Almagro, but I don't belong to any church, to any temple, or religious team. If there is a God, God is in people's good acts, and if God has a face, I don't know what color it is. I don't have the least idea if God's a man or a woman, a coyote or an earthworm. God is an idea of good behavior, of forgiveness, for example. If there is a God, I think God would agree with forgiveness without conditions.
Unconditional love, unconditional loyalty, I don't feel those for any team, or any country or anything, only for San Lorenzo. Although they fail again and again, and only end up champions occasionally, although we have a glorious but hard, and sometimes tragic, history. I like how the San Lorenzo supporter behaves; I like their traditions. They have the best songs and are the most witty, and the other supporters recognize that. And besides, they sing non-stop; it doesn't matter if we're losing 0 to 7. San Lorenzo supporters have a very rich history, of endurance above all, and a special dignity.
There are people who don't like soccer, and that's also acceptable, as weird as it may be! [He laughs] In the United States, where I lived for many years, there are people who say they hate it, commentators that say it's an absurd game full of dirty tricks, that people dive - which is true, there are players that are unbearable because they dive so much - that is very boring. They don't understand how a game that ends 0 to 0 could be interesting, and that people would leave cheering. I don't know. To me, soccer is a metaphor for many things, like struggle in life. It's a sport in which someone really little like Messi - who looks like an ordinary guy who could be riding a bike delivering newspapers or sandwiches, whatever - does unforgettable things every time he comes out to play. It's impressive.
Before he went blind, Borges, the great Argentinian writer, worked in a public library in Boedo (a neighborhood in Buenos Aires) and had lunch in a bar there. It was a bar that a lot of San Lorenzo supporters went to. And they always came up to him and bothered him. 'Maestro, maestro,' they said. 'What team are you for?' 'What do you mean, what team?' 'Soccer, soccer.' 'I hate soccer, I don't support any of them, leave me alone.' 'You have to be for San Lorenzo, you have to become a San Lorenzo supporter, maestro.' Every day it was like that. Until Borges told them, 'Look, if you promise me that I won't ever have to go to a soccer game, I'll become a San Lorenzo supporter.' 'Great!' So we say that Borges is also for San Lorenzo, even though we're cheating a little.
I read somewhere that Borges went with another writer to see a match between the national teams of Uruguay and Argentina. Neither one of them knew anything about soccer and they weren't very interested in it, and at the half they left. They didn't know there was another half [laughter].
I began to feel the San Lorenzo colours in the mid-sixties and it was then when I became a true Cuervo. They weren´t champions, but they got support for their efforts. They put a lot of will into it, they had a lot of drive and it was a very good team. They suffered a lot during that decade, but a lot of famous players came out of it, like "El Loco" Doval, who went to Brazil and had great success with Flamengo, or "El Bambino" Veira, who is a legend. In 1968, they were undefeated champions, and because of that the kids in school respected me a little more."