When our family returned to Uruguay, I was fifteen years old. After arrival it turned out that I didn’t have a football club, in my new environment everyone seemed to have one. Those who were not for Peñarol were for Nacional. Sometimes someone was for Wanderers, Defensor or Danubio. I wanted to be mistaken for Uruguayan, so I quickly chose a club. I chose wrong.
At the time, I read Uruguayan writers such as Eduardo Galeano to help me reintegrate. He said: “During his life a man can change his wife, political party or religion, but never football club.” Not only had I chosen a chowder club, I would be stuck with it for the rest of my life.
At the age of 21 I returned to the Netherlands. Again I was clubless, but as a migrant I was now experienced. I wasn’t going to make the mistake of making a hasty choice again. In The Hague I sometimes went to ADO, but I was turned off by racist choirs. As a resident of ‘020’, Ajax would be the logical choice, but on top of all the obstacles that prevented that, the Vermeer doll and the Overmars flag came to hang. At FC Volendam, the players eat plant-based, which is very tempting. My heart is with Forest Green Rovers anyway, they don’t even eat animals in the canteen, but FGR is foreign, so that doesn’t count.
In recent years I thought more and more about Feyenoord. It was as if a football club cupid whispered to me “Feyenoord, Feyenoord”. The Feyenoord supporters I know are sympathetic, intelligent people. The club defeatism is heartwarming, who does not melt with the sentence: “You are not a Feyenoor supporter for fun.” I was once allowed to recite a poem in an empty Kuip, which was never allowed at other clubs and then Arne Slot also went there. After thirty years of searching for the right one, I might have found my club. I came closer and saw the aggression towards the Pink Comrades, the threats towards Ahmed Aboutaleb and that unbridled hatred towards Steven Berghuis, the former bloodgabber who had the courage to play for the rival.
Supporters who react so aggressively to what they don’t like are like possessive parents; of those oppressive types who demand that whoever comes near the apple of their eye be exactly as they are. “You are not allowed to deal with him, because he is gay.” “You can’t talk to him because he’s weird.” “We’ll beat that traitor who goes with that chick from the neighboring village when he comes back.”
That poor kid can never spread wings, let alone make new friends. Feyenoord is a beautiful creature, but those parents, man, man, man, what tyrants they are. The child does not dare to stand up against it, the school board does not dare to say anything and the rest of the family refuses to do so. Eleven of those parents, all men in their thirties, were arrested on Friday morning, but there were still enough on the street to let the child play behind a protective net on Sunday. A net like a cocoon that had to protect the child against the parents.
Caroline Trujillo is a writer.
A version of this article also appeared in the January 23, 2023 newspaper