Unprofessional Foul


April 29, 2010

Guest Post: The Peruvian Prison System’s WC Dreams

FIFA Upstaged By The Peruvian Prison System?

Another post by Mountain WAG, this time unconnected to the shapeliness of Cesc Fabregas’ legs…

Even in South America, Peru is notorious for their prison violence – whether it’s the mounting death toll for this year or the massacre in 1986 that left 224 dead, their prison system has been under worldwide human-rights scrutiny for years.

But, despite the complaints that there is little (or, more often than not, no) food, sanitation, or safety at prison facilities around the country, the prisoners at the high-security Castro-Castro prison on the outskirts of Lima are enjoying their own World Cup tournament.

Conveniently, a large number of prisoners at Castro-Castro are from outside Peru (16 different countries to be exact) and many have been incarcerated on dubious “narcoterrorism” charges (dubious not to their individual innocence or guilt, but as to the specificity of the charges against each. Narcoterrorism is Peru’s version of the Patriot Act, complete with loopholes to hold prisoners indefinitely without a trial).

The mock tournament will last for two months, run by the country’s jail authority in order to help prepare inmates for life on the outside. (some prisoner footy shots here)

The first game in the tourney saw South Africa defeat Russia 3-2, and the South African Secretary for Corporate Affairs was even in attendance! Now, as we all understand, that could be SA’s only win in the WC – but can we stop and say WTF!??!

First off, for a country that has regular riots by prisoners complaining to speed up their legal proceedings or riots involving prisoners with their own guns or where grenades have been seized from prisoners is the best use of (what was previously believed to be meager) funds REALLY putting on a mock-tournament?

Sure, it’s great for morale — kits, equipment, sunshine, national unity, etc etc — and the whole endeavor is to promote their “rehabilitation” so they can “still be a part of the community” (at least according to the SA official on hand). So, it seems the thought process at Castro-Castro goes, “if we let them play soccer, they will feel less like criminals and when they get out, and then they can acclimatize into society easier”. But if you really think the Russian keeper who let SA score on them three times isn’t going to get shanked soon, you’re kidding yourself.

Among Latin American countries, Peru has one of the highest incidences of TB in prisons. Think an infected prisoner would pass up a chance at ‘freedom’ for 90 minutes? Not likely. They’re out running and coughing, transmitting that TB to someone else on the pitch or aggravating their own condition. It’s sounds like more short-sightedness from FIFA, except that there’s no way to blame them for this. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could say maybe it’s all a ploy to decrease the overcrowding in the prison. Play some futbol. Feel better. Die.

But let’s assume that’s not the case. Let’s assume someone had the best intentions when organizing this mock-tournament. Well here’s what good intentions lead to – when someone is fighting for survival daily for the most basic of necessities, there are no games in life. If this is all those prisoners have, I won’t be surprised when the tournament wraps up, the media cameras stop rolling, life returns to what they consider normal, and the violence continues.

Is this glimpse of soccer really worth it?

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About the Author

James T