Edmundo Guibourg
| Justo Piernes

Carlos Gardel’s liking for soccer

e liked to watch it whenever he had the occasion because besides his show business engagements there were horse races on Sundays. His friend since childhood days and also neighbor who later became a theater man, Edmundo Guibourg, tells us about it:

«Carlos Gardel was in Spain when in 1928, on their way to Amsterdam, the Argentine delegation sent to the Olympic Games arrived. Carlos, then, was at all times with the soccer players. So much so that he continued with them up to Paris and he had booked the tickets to go to the location of the games when, suddenly, he had to travel to Italy. In Spain, I know for certain, he was a close friend of José Samitier (The magician). Also friend of the goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora (The divine) and of nearly all the players of the Barcelona team.

«The Spaniards truly loved him. And when in 1931 they went to London for a historical match with the English, Carlos who was in Paris, decided to go to see them. I went with him. Pierotti and Duggan, an owner of racing horses, traveled with us. We were about to travel by plane but Carlos was against it. He did not want it. Sometimes I think it was a premonition and then I’m sorry of having been the one who introduced him to Alfredo Le Pera. It was precisely the latter who convinced him that he had not to fear flying.

«When the Barcelona team arrived in Paris, on their way to an important match with the English, Carlitos went to see them. He could not let down Samitier and Zamora, with whom he had already shared an almost bloody final match with the Real Madrid by singing to them while they recovered after blows and bruises. (There is a photograph with Gardel seated on a chair, Samitier with bandages on head and neck lying on a hospital bed and another player on the opposite side with a head bandage).

«So we went to London. He was regarded as a mascot by the Barcelona but things did not turn out well. We took a taxi cab to go the stadium. We followed some buses that were taking fans. When we saw that those fans had got off we did the same. But then we had to walk over 15 blocks to get to the stadium. The stop was the bus terminal, not the stadium. Later something similar happened. While we walked back around one kilometer and a half Gardel was telling me: «What silly goals those Johnnies scored... And no fewer than 7-0, I’m not coming back to London unless one of our teams plays».

«As a kid he liked soccer and probably he played in the hollow (In the old days that was the name given to vacant plots of land) of the orphanage. When he was an adult he was friend of players like Tarasconi, Mario Evaristo, Orsi...»

José Samitier (1902-1972) played from 1919 to 1936, always in the Barcelona, but by the end of his career he played two years in the Real Madrid. A street of his city bears his name.

The journalist Justo Piernes wrote about it:

«The day before the accident was Sunday. A very cold day with only 2 degrees C. But despite it there were races and soccer. River and Racing played and they ended up in a draw 1-1. River scored the first goal with a shot by Peucelle. According to the chronicles it was a match with much movement and beautiful passes.

«In other matches Independiente stood out with a goal by Orsi and three scored by the Paraguayan Arsenio Erico.

«But Racing was the team that Gardel liked, like most of the young of that time, because it meant the Argentinisation of soccer in the dawn of the twentieth century after the hegemony of the Alumni’s gringos. Besides its shirt’s color, its players were the Argentine sons of the Italian and Spanish immigrants.

«But there is not much concerning soccer in the profuse bibliography about Gardel. It was not one of his favorite hobbies as indeed horse races were. By searching we conclude that Gardel’s passion for Racing Club was lit in 1917 when that historical team that deserved the sobriquet La Academia appeared. The soccer player Natalio Perinetti, the last of those boys to die, affirmed that Gardel was in their dressing room to congratulate them when their team became champion. Since then he kept a friendship with that player and with another crack, Pedro Ochoa. A fundamental obstacle to go often to watch soccer was that on Sundays there were races.

«Gardel also was linked to the first world championship that took place in Montevideo in 1930. At the final match Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2. Two days before the match he turned up at dinner time at the Barra de Santa Lucía hotel where they were gathered. There he sang for the team until midnight because it was his day on leave. He appeared daily at the Teatro Artigas. This event so was recalled by Carlos Peucelle».

Sources: Guibourg, Edmundo: Primer diccionario gardeliano. By José Barcia, Enriqueta Fulle and Luis Macaggi. Ed. Corregidor, 1985. Page 106. Piernes, Justo: excerpted from the daily paper Tiempo argentino, June 20, 1985.