The Curse of Béla Guttmann

imageI write this not as a superstition, but as an intriguing series of events, which defies logic. Nevertheless, the element of bud-dua exists in our belief system. For the rest, Allah knows best.

As I watched the football match between Benfica and Bayern in the European Champions Cup Quarter-Final, my mind flashed back to when Eusebio was king of Europe and Benfica the best football team in the world. Picked out of Mozambique, based on a chance discussion in a barber shop in Lisbon (about a soccer wonder kid), this 20 year old had made Benfica European Champions in 1961 and then again in 1962. It was no mean achievement, as they had beaten Barcelona and then Real Madrid in those finals.

Béla Guttmann was the manager behind Benfica. Much traveled and besides playing for Hungary, had been in the USA, South America and various European clubs. His history besides being adventurous, was also one of hard nosed independence and eccentricity. He rarely lasted beyond two seasons and was attributed with the quote “The third season is fatal”. After World War II, Europe being short of food, he asked that his managerial compensation be in the shape of fresh vegetables, so that he could feed himself and his family. He also had renowned arguments, which meant he had to move on from his job. He was fired from AC Milan in the mid 50’s despite the Rossoneri leading the Italian Serie A. He also took on Ferenc Puskas, the Captain of the Mighty Magyars of the 50’s and got fired.

So here was a man at the peak of his career. Acknowledged as the main force behind Benfica, he had already mentored Eusebio to greatness (who eventually became Ballon d’Or) and was looking at his last years of management spent at the top of world football. He was however, in his third season at Benfica, and maybe he should have reflected on his own words.

Somethings never change. Guttmann’s history was one of them. Having beaten Real Madrid in the 1962 European Final and Eusebio ending runner up in the Ballon d’Or election, Guttmann approached Benfica for an increase in salary. In todays monied world this is such an obvious move; Benfica would have done well to increase Guttmann’s pay. They chose to refuse and Guttman being who he was, walked. Much regret from everyone, but it seemed not the end of the world. However, as Guttmann left Benfica, legend has it he cursed the club, declaring “Never in a hundred years, will Benfica ever be European champion”. This is what in our words, is called a bud-dua.

I am no one to judge the merits of this curse. But, 54 years on, as Benfica lose to Bayern Munich in another European Champions Quarter-final, they have lost all eight of their subsequent European finals, comprising five European Cup finals (1963, 1965, 1968, 1988, 1990) and three UEFA Cup/Europa League finals (1983, 2013 and 2014). An amazing series of events and a statistic which has intrigued many in football. This course of events is similar to the much spoken “curse of the Bambino” on the Boston Red Sox, which took almost 90 years to break.

Just to show that in Portugal they take this curse very seriously, before the 1990 European Cup final, which was played in Vienna, where Guttmann is buried, Eusébio (Guttmann’s former star player) prayed at Guttmann’s grave for the curse to be broken. As I finish writing, the score ends Bayern 3- Benfica 2. Another year gone.

* picture is from Sportskeeda.com

The evil behind Panama Papers

imageIf you feel low and sick, it is quite all right. You have every right to feel as sick as is possible for a human being. Behind, in the background one can hear the clinking of dollars and the shuffle of thousands of wads of money. If you close your eyes, there is even a slight smell of fresh dollars in the air.

Alas, all this fresh smell of dollars, is really evil being syphoned into off shore bank accounts. Filed away in quiet corners, hidden deep in computer records where the probing eyes cannot reach. At least that is what they thought, till one day by some miraculous leak, it has appeared on the internet. That this is millions of people hiding away their evil in closed files, is the most astonishing thing. This is not some poor person surviving at the bread line. Or middle class people hiding away their pathetic little savings, to bring out on a rainy day. These are people who own mansions, factories, shares, their wives flash 14 ct diamonds and wear flashy clothes at parties. They drive around in Mercedes AMG or come to world wide events in black coloured chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. They buy escorts at twenty thousand dollars a night and wear watches which are worth millions.

They have these things so that they are admired, but behind this facade they hide away filth, like you and I cannot imagine. How can we? We are ordinary people. We have worked hard, earned some bread, shared plenty with family and friends and we do not belong to a Global Elite. We are insignificant and are the 99 plus percent of this world. In this world of so called democracy, we are the ruled. We line up for hours for the privilege to vote for this Global Elite and then we are exploited till the next election. I wish there was some magical settling of earth, which gobbles them all up, so we could start anew.

As for our own bits of local elite. Our PM comes on air and complains about all the wrong done to him. Astonishing. He does not tell us how, so many of him and them, got into these Panama Papers. He just blames others. And the bad part is, you know he will get away with it again. He has been doing that for 35 years. So why not again?

I have just this to say to him and others like him. You are old and soon you will go where there is no coming back. Beware of the hurt of that child whose hand you have bitten. Beware of that mother who cannot feed her children properly in your domain. Beware of the father who has toiled all day to put a couple of pieces of bread on his table. Also beware of the ill who cannot pay for his cure and the old who is getting minuscule pension and struggles to survive. And beware of the collective hurt of your nation. They will never excuse you for these clinky dollars and fresh smelling wads of cash, and you shall pay a price stretching an eternity of pain. You will regret this yet. Our time will come beyond the grave.

*the picture is from inquistr.com

%d bloggers like this: