Political football

Evo Morales playing football. Image: kk+ on Flickr / Some rights reserved

Brilliant story in today’s Guardian: Low blow Morales: Bolivian president knees football opponent in groin [with images of the offending knee]

The friendly match started when, wearing a No 10 green jersey, Morales, a football fanatic and Bolivia’s first indigenous president, led his team of bodyguards and officials on to the artificial pitch.

The yellow team was led by Luis Revilla, mayor of La Paz and a political ally turned foe of the president. After smiles and handshakes the game began. Within five minutes Daniel Gustavo Cartagena, in the No 2 jersey for the mayor’s team, scythed into the president after he passed the ball, gashing his right leg.

Morales, 50, a former Aymara llama herder and coca farmer, is not known for indulging critics, let alone people who foul him. He walked up to Cartagena, indicated his wound, then kneed him in the groin. The player collapsed, prompting audible whistles from spectators.

The match swiftly deteriorated into a bad-tempered, foul-filled contest which arguably mirrored the Andean country’s combative politics. By the end, the match drawn at 4-4, two players from each side had been sent off, including Cartagena and one of the president’s bodyguards.

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