South America

wsc303San Lorenzo fans are mobilising to ask questions of the dictatorship that turned their stadium into a supermarket, reports Joel Richards

Barely three hours after the Mothers of the Disappeared finished their march, San Lorenzo fans filled the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. According to the organisers, there were 100,000 of them. Just like the Mothers, San Lorenzo were demanding justice for crimes committed during the 1976-83 dictatorship in Argentina.

wsc303After financial crises, the 2012 season could emerge as an unlikely success story for Peru's Primera División, says Nick Dorrington

2011 was a terrible year for Peruvian football. The football federation's flaccid attempts at regulating the financial difficulties suffered by the majority of first division clubs turned the national league into a farce. The death of Alianza Lima supporter Walter Oyarce, who was pushed off a stand by rival fans, highlighted the growing problem of football-related violence. Stricter enforcement was required if 2012 was to offer any improvement.

wsc302Jack Lang argues that since his big-money move to Flamengo, which angered his hometown club, Ronaldinho has not profited as expected

"Don't throw coins at Ronaldinho: he'll only start collecting them" read one handmade sign. Hundreds of others simply bore the words "crook" and "mercenary". Some pioneering fans even went to the effort of printing fake R$100 notes with his face on them. This was not the homecoming Ronaldinho had hoped for, but he could have expected nothing less. His return to boyhood team Grêmio in October was always going to be a tense affair, following his decision to snub the club earlier in the year.

wsc301 Eva Peron's attempt to use football as a propaganda tool in the early 1950s compromised the integrity of the game in Argentina, argues Jon Spurling

Eva "Evita" Perón could never be described as a football fanatic, although as a struggling actress and model in the 1940s, she appeared on Buenos Aires billboards wearing a Boca Juniors shirt for a toothpaste advert. Nonetheless, when Banfield, a small club ten miles south of the capital, faced reigning champions Racing Club in a two-legged title decider at the end of the 1950-51 season, she spotted a golden political opportunity.

wsc301When their drug money dried up, one of Columbia's most successful clubs experience their first ever relegation, writes Carl Worswick

América de Cali, Colombia's best supported football club with 13 league titles and four appearances in the Copa Libertadores final, have hit the bottom. They were relegated in December following a play-off defeat to a team of minnows from the second division. The Red Devils are at their lowest ebb in their 84 years of existence.

wsc300 The Brazilian title has just been won by a popular club who are also extending their influence behind the scenes. Robert Shaw reports

Corinthians clinched their fifth Brazilian national championship on a day when one of their former stars departed. Prior to the start of the final day's fixture against Palmeiras on December 4, the Corinthians team paid homage to Socrates, who died in a São Paulo hospital earlier that day, by clenching fists in his trademark salute. It was a poignant moment for Corintianos but less so for club president Andres Sanchez whose recent stewardship had been slated by the player known as Magrão (the big thin one).

wsc300 One of Argentina's big clubs is adjusting to life in the second division after their first ever relegation. Sam Kelly reports

Anyone seeking to gain a sense of perspective before claiming their side are in crisis should look to Argentina, where December brought to a close what has been the worst year in the history of one of the country's biggest clubs. For a change, that phrase is employed without any hyperbole.

wsc299 Nick Dorrington ponders whether the return of the great Basque manager Xabier Azkargorta will inspire a new generation of Bolivian players

The 2011 Copa América seemed to illustrate the closing gap in quality between the traditionally stronger and weaker nations in South America, but there was one team to whom that didn't apply. Bolivia were eliminated at the group stage with just a solitary point to their name and now, four matches in, lie dead last in the qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup.

Paraguay fared well at the Copa América and the World Cup, but as Simeon Tegel tells us, their style of play has frustrated many fans

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? That is the question dogging Paraguay's national team after achieving two of their best ever tournament results, in the Copa América and World Cup, while barely winning a match. The Guaraníes, nicknamed after the indigenous group that still lives in swathes of the country, finished runners-up in August's South American championship and made it to the last eight in South Africa, a first for the sparsely populated nation in a World Cup.

Nick Dorrington on how footballers' private lives are rich in gossip for sections of the Peruvian media, whether the stories are true are not

On the corner of every third street in every medium-sized Peruvian town people gather to stare intently at newsstands with an awe that suggests the advent of print press is still, to them, a new phenomenon. Very few of them ever buy the newspapers and magazines displayed; it is the headlines on the front and back pages that stick with them for the rest of the day.

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