This thesis dissertation looks at fútbol (soccer) as a means by which we can better understand changes in Argentine society in the period after the fall of Juan Perón in 1955. Politicians, economists, and intellectuals moved away from Peronist populism and took a more reasoned-even scientific-approach to Argentina’s problems and how to integrate in a global economy. What was once a thriving, industrial, and progressive country had now become a stagnated nation with a future yet to be fully reached.
Fútbol, a sport introduced by the British at the end of the 19th century, was no different. Argentina enjoyed a glorious footballing past defined by a unique criollo style-which blended European organization and athleticism with cunning skills of individual flair honed in the streets and back alleys of the country. Yet, by 1955 Argentina’s sense of footballing superiority was largely unfounded. It had played few international tournaments and won few, if any, titles. Although local club teams enjoyed record attendance and exhibited growing professionalization by the end of the Perón era, significant defeats during the late 1950s caused many to wonder if modernization and a more scientific approach would be more successful.
This research project will examine why a steep decline in attendance occurred after the fall of Perón in 1955, while a sharp increase in stadium violence emerged during this moment of political and social transition. When and how did violence become organized among fans? Did police and press reactions exasperate fan violence? What effect did political, social, economic, and cultural changes have on masculine and youth identity? Above all, this dissertation will explore class tensions and discussions of modernity in Argentina during the 1955-1970 era through an examination of Argentine fútbol.
Rwany Sibaja is a Ph.D candidate in History at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, concentrating on Modern Latin American History. Other interests include Digital History & New Media and 20th century Britain.