La explotación laboral infantil no es cosa nueva, existe hace más de 100 años, quizás desde aquellas remotas épocas de conquistas imperialistas que subyugaron al "nuevo mundo" bajo las insignias de "liberar" a quienes ya eran libres.
En Sud-America (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay y Brasil) hay una infución ampliamente consumida: la yerba mate
Actualmente, Argentina es el mayor exportador mundial de este producto, el 60% sale de la provincia de Misiones, mundialmente conocida por tener una de las "7 Maravillas del Mundo", las Cataratas del Iguazú
. Pero no todo es tan "maravilloso" en esta provincia, este año (2020) la ONG "Un sueño para Misiones
" volvió a reavivar un fuego casi extinto y olvidado en la "famosa" región, el trabajo infantil en las plantaciones de yerba mate.
Como sucede en las plantaciones de café y cacao, el trabajo de menores en países en vías de desarrollo (o "tercer mundistas") se da por una situación socio-económica que impide a los padres y madres ganar el suficiente capital para poder alimentar la boca de sus hijos, haciendo que los niño dejen el colegio (estudios) para ir a las plantaciones de yerba mate, es decir, percibir una remuneración o capital por su esfuerzo físico, conocido como trabajo
es el nombre que recibe la persona cosechadora y colectora en las platanciones de yerba mate, su labor consiste en cultivar, cosechar y recolectar la yerba mate en las tierras del productor (dueño de la tierra, o, terrateniente) para que luego, por medio de diferentes loǵisticas, llegue a la góndola local o internacional (exportación) La forma en la que el obrero es transportado de su casa a la plantación, no es la más segura, en 2013 saltó el resorte cuando ocho personas murieron por haber desbarrancado el camión que los transportaba, dos de ellos tenían 12 años y otro 14.
El diario digitla Misiones.com
describe en su articulo
fechado el 22 de Junio de 2013:
Según el testimonio de sobrevivientes, al notar que el camión corría descontrolado cuesta abajo, el padre de Fernando Santiago (12 años) abrazó al chico y lo protegió como pudo, con su propio cuerpo.
El periódico digital Infoberdigital.com
también se hizo eco del hecho redactando
Cabe recordar que los 24 tareferos que se transportaban en el camión Ford F-7000 que volcó en la ruta 220 a 400 metros de Salto Encantado, estaban todos contratados en negro. De estos, al menos 10 eran niños –dos fallecieron esta semana y las víctimas fatales llegaron a ocho.
Ese mismo año la sociologa Maria Luz Roa publicó en una revista científica Tarefa que me hiciste sufrir...La emocionalidad en la constitución del self de los jóvenes de familias tareferas
un detallado escríto (21 pág) sobre la situación de familias en las plantaciones de yerba mate.
En 2014, la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Escuela de Artes, Departamente de Cine y televisión hizo un documental
de 16 min, entrevistando a tareferos y maestros sobre el trabajo infantil en las plantaciones y los causas de analfabetismo que genera en los niños.
A finales del 2015 las ONG Change.org
y "Un Sueño para Misiones
" se armaron de valor para hacer un documental
de 30 min, denunciando la situación que viven muchos niños en el país Suramericano. El primer periódico que repitió el mensaje fue La Nación, que en Enero 2016, publicaría Cómo es el trabajo infantil en la cosecha de yerba mate
tratando de concientizar a la población local sobre la falta de derechos humanos
que hay detrás de la infusión nacional más popular:
(...) durante el rodaje del documental pudieron comprobar la desigualdad, desprotección y los riesgos a los que se enfrentan cada día los niños de las familias que trabajan en la tarefa (...) Los chicos no tienen acceso a la educación, toman agua contaminada y, en algunos casos, se instalan con sus familias en el yerbal y se pasan hasta 22 días sin baño. Hay un imaginario que no tiene un correlato con la realidad, con lo que allí se sufre y con la falta de igualdad. La mayoría, aseguran, comienza a trabajar entre los 4 y los 10 años. Comen reviro como plato principal hasta dos veces por día [que no es otra cosa que una pasta de harina, agua y sal, tipo torta frita] y están en contacto con agroquímicos y herramientas peligrosas para su edad y su salud. La mayoría no va a la escuela, y el tiempo para jugar casi no existe
9 meses más tarde el mismo periódico no quería dejar el tema en el olvido y sacó otro articulo nombrado El trabajo infantil: un monstruo escondido entre los yerbales
En 2016 María Luz Roa comentaría:
“La problemática de los tareferos es que hay subcontratación de la mano de obra en la cadena de producción de la yerba mate. En Misiones, los dueños del yerbal son en su mayoría colonos, propietarios de lo que sería un "farmer" en lenguaje sociológico, un mediano productor. La contratación es a través de intermediarios y la mayor parte de lo que sería esa mano de obra, de lo que sería ese mercado de trabajo, está en negro. Se trabaja a través de campamentos que se instalan a los bordes de los yerbales, con sistemas de enganche donde el contratista les adelanta mercadería y después el tarefero queda endeudado. A su vez el trabajo de la tarefa es a destajo, o sea por cantidad cosechada, entonces si llueve no se cosecha, depende también de la calidad del yerbal” (...) Raído son los bolsones donde se cosecha la yerba mate; cosecha que es manual, todavía no se mecanizó, entonces se hace con tijera o con cuchillo, y se concentra esa yerba en los raídos, y eso se carga en los hombros de la persona, hace unos años empezaron a implementar unos carritos, pero es un trabajo sumamente sufrido (...) Lo que sucede es que se envejece muy precozmente –especificó–, un tarefero tiene una vida útil en la cosecha hasta los 40 y pico de años, después generalmente se accidenta, tiene problemas en la espalda, en las rodillas, en las articulaciones (...) entonces de esa manera los pibes desde edades tempranas empiezan a ir [a tarefear]"
Pero en Argentina no es el único país en que se da el trabajo infantil, aquel mismo año (2016), el gobierno de Paraguay publicó resultados representativos de la Encuesta de actividades de niños, niñas y adolescentes de las zonas rurales para el año 2015. En la encuesta, se estima que 301.827 niños de entre 5 y 17 años de edad realizan trabajo peligroso en las zonas rurales y de los cuales 3.464 se encuentran en campos de yerba mate.
Algunos medios de comunicación internacionales pusieron énfasis en concientizar a la sociedad sobre la explotación de menores, por ejemplo, la BBC
(Inglaterra) publicó un informe sobre lo acontecido en 2013 titulado Trabajo infantil: el trago amargo del mate, la bebida nacional argentina
El cosechero es el eslabón más débil en la cadena del mate. Un hombre que recoja 700 kilos, en promedio, puede ganar 350 pesos argentinos, unos US$25 por día. "Recibimos 0,75 centavos de peso por cada kilo de hoja verde, pero hoy solo una bolsa de harina cuesta 250 pesos (US$18)"
Otro periódico internacional que se sumó a la denuncia contra el trabajo infantil fue El Mundo
(España) bajo el titulo Los niños, el estigma del mate
y también El Nuevo Herald
(Estados Unidos) con el titular Se destapa trabajo infantil en los campos de yerba mate en Argentina
El año siguiente (2017) La Nación volvió a la carga con un informe titulado ¿Sabías que el mate esconde trabajo infantil?
pero la repercución internacional fue un ruido silencioso, tímidamente se la CNN
(Estados Unidos) fue uno de los que se aventuró a recalcar la situación con un breve informe titulado El trabajo infantil y la pobreza detrás de la yerba mate que consumimos
Ya en 2017 las propuestas para modificar las leyes
en Argentina contra la explotación infantil remetieron contra los magisterios sin éxito más no sin olvido
En 2020, tras tres años de silencio mediático y político, el periódico Norte de Corrientes
volvio a denunciar que:
En San Carlos, los inspectores constataron trabajadores de cultivo y cosecha de yerba mate sin su correspondiente Libreta de Trabajo Rural (aun cuando se encuentran declarados y registrados en AFIP) y con remuneraciones por debajo de lo que marca la ley. Conforme surge de la fiscalización, el empleador declaró en los recibos menor cantidad de días de labor, en una actividad que no se detuvo durante la pandemia de COVID-19. (...) los inspectores detectaron 4 adolescentes de 16 y 17 años en la cosecha de yerba mate -uno de los cuales no se encuentra escolarizado-
Mientras tanto varios medicos de la provincia de Misiones publicaban varias notas
sobre el accidente que sufireron 20 tareferos al viajar en un trasnporte inseguro que terminó por cobrarse otra vida:
Alarcón [fallecido] viajaba con otros 19 trabajadores –entre ellos, un menor de 16 años – en una combi que no estaba habilitada para el transporte de pasajeros y que de hecho, no disponía de asientos o cinturones de seguridad
Actualmente (2020) los tareferos deben cosechar 18 toneladas de yerba por mes para no ser pobres
, trabajan entre 12 y 14 horas por día, mientras el kilo de yerba se vende a (aproximadamente) $200, a los tareferos les pagan $1,5 (un peso con cincuenta) por kilo cosechado y sólo el 20% de los tareferos cobra un subsidio que era de $2300 hasta fines del año pasado (últimos datos actualizados).
Según la BBC
, este año, Siria se convierte en el mayor comprador o importador de yerba mate a nivel mundial.
Soluciones que se pueden plantear al problema:
Igual que con el café, el cacao, la yerba mate es un producto que debe ser consumido, es decir, comprado con capital ganado producto del esfuerzo, por lo que primeramente la solución más fácil podría ser dejar de consumirlo puesto que es una forma de desincentivar la explotación infantil, aunque, claro está, que muchos no van a dejar el círculo vicioso del consumismo, por lo que se deben proponer alternativas. La modificación de las leyes contra la esclavitud de menores debe ser tomada en serio por los países productores, las entidades gubernamentales conocen en detalle la condición precaria en la que se encuentran muchos niños y niñas, saben que bajo su gobierno y su "techo" se están cometiendo injusticias y no hacen mucho para cambiarlo, es por esto que como individuos debemos tomar acciones contra las grandes corporaciones o terratenientes que siguen beneficiandose de una plusvalía
inmerecida. La justicia social debe llegar primero a los padres, no con planes sociales, sino con trabajos dignos, salarios justos que le permitan pagar la comida de sus hijos, la salud de ellos y de los suyos, de forma que esos jóvenes puedan enfocar su mente en estudiar y jugar. Dentro de los derechos humanos universales se encuentran: salud, educación y una vivienda digna, un combo que no existe entre las quimeras plantaciones de café, cacao y yerba mate. Los trabajadores no quieren ser mantenidos, quieren que se respeten estos derechos, humanos y universales, son derechos
que todas las personas merecen, no solamente los "civilizados" urbanitas, ellos mismos lo dicen en el documental que puede encontrar en este link.
-"How was Italian football before Sacchi?" -"Like now."
Just two words are enough for Arrigo Sacchi to disarm your face-to-face strategy and leave you out of the game like a beginner. Three words that, however, do not strictly correspond to reality. They are only half true. Only by digging deep into his footballing imagination can one discover how the man who built one of the greatest teams of all time is able to disregard his legacy and blur it in the timeline of the evolution of the beautiful game in Italy. Despite his modesty, there is no doubt that Arrigo Sacchi and his Milan team mark a turning point for Italian football, although from the manager's point of view it is not a turning point but a mere parenthesis. Italian football changed during his time on the bench, but recovered its natural course as soon as he stepped off the pitch and into the offices. "Clearly there has been some change, but not like in the rest of Europe. The televisions have made us see that a different kind of football is being played. 'They've changed all over the world except in Italy,' Costacurta told me a few years ago when we were watching the Italian U-21s against Denmark," explains Sacchi. What are the reasons for this lack of evolution in Italian football? Sacchi is able to recite them with the confidence with which a surgeon points out the ills to be removed. "In Italy, you don't know what the merit is, you just want to win. The fans and the journalists don't ask for the show or the fun, they ask for the victory. -And then how do we seek this victory? -We seek it in the way we know best, through cunning or the art of achieving what we set out to do. Then, our football is a football that costs to be updated and to evolve". Like a wharf which, however much you stretch, returns to its original form, Italian football always tends towards its most primal concepts. And to find the origin of those concepts, you have to do some archaeological work until you get back to the embryonic stage of football in Italy.
World football is roughly divided into four schools. First we have the direct style which was born in England and is still representative of British teams nowadays. Then we have the cheerful, colourful and lighthearted way of life that the Brazilians have been able to bring to the pitch to the height of artistic movement. Thirdly, there is the Dutch philosophy. The so-called total football with which Rinus Michels overtook Herbert Chapman's WM team to surprise the world, generating an idea of play that still has imitators, as is the case of Barcelona in recent times. Finally, we find the Italian style, baptized under the term of Catenaccio, which means lock in Italian. A nomenclature, by the way, quite illustrative of the ideals of the game. In its most basic concepts, the Italian is a football mostly defensive and disciplined, where the result prevails over any commitment to aesthetics. In line with Niccolò Machiavelli's 'Prince' ("the end justifies the means"), Italian football has always assumed that anything is permissible as long as victory is achieved.
Ironically, Catenaccio has no Italian parents. It is not clear who invented this style, but none of those who claim paternity were born in Italy. According to the accomplished historian Brian Glanville, the Catenaccio was invented by the Austrian coach Karl Rappan during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1940s, Rappan developed a tactic that the press christened Riegel (lock, in German) and consisted of having one of the five men on the WM front line move in behind the three defenders. The job of this sweeper would be to keep an eye on the opposing forwards who were running away from their marker. Helenio Herrera, however, not only proclaimed himself the inventor of the Catenaccio but claimed to be the first player to play the role of a sweeper. "It occurred to me when I was playing in France," explains the Argentine coach, as Simon Kuper relates in Football Against the Enemy. "We were playing with the WM formation then," continues Mago Herrera, "and in a game where we were winning 1-0 with 15 minutes to go, I left my position to get behind the defense. I had these ideas in my time as a player and when I became a manager years later I remembered them." Glanville believes Rappan invented the Catenaccio, Nereo Rocco introduced it to Italy and Helenio Herrera perfected it. Whether it was one or the other who invented it, both versions agree that the key piece of this style is the figure of the Libero. Without it, there would be no Catenaccio.
The success of the ultra-defensive Inter Milan during the 1960s, which razed Europe to the ground with two consecutive European Cups (1964 and 1965), made the Catenaccio the book that rested on the bedside table of any self-respecting Italian coach. Anyone who wanted to win had to resort to defensive football. Nereo Rocco's triumphs with Milan in the late 1960s and Giovanni Trapattoni's triumphs with Juventus in the 1980s did not invite the idea of an alternative. That was the context in which a discreet footballer who had not managed to get out of the lower ranks of Italian football decided to hang up his boots to become a coach. At just 26, Arrigo Sacchi sat on the bench for the first time. At Baracca Lugo, a team in the neighbourhood where he worked as a shoemaker. "I was 26, my goalkeeper was 39 and my striker was 32. I had to win them" It was the start of a rise to the elite with stops at Bellaria and Rimini and the youth teams of Cesena and Fiorentina. But fate awaited him at Parma, with whom he would achieve promotion to Serie B in just one season and leave him three points behind the top flight of Italian football. During that season, a 1986-1987 Italian Cup play-off would change his life forever. He would beat AC Milan by the smallest of margins, playing a game that caught the eye of the Rossoneri's top executive. It was on that night that Silvio Berlusconi was enthralled by Arrigo Sacchi. Silvio Berlusconi
had recently became the owner of Milan. After a failed attempt to take over Inter Milan, he ended up buying the Rossoneri on 20 February 1986, ready to build the best team in the world. Although Milan did not seem to be the most suitable club to do so. The golden years when Europe was painted in red and black had already long survived only in the history books. In the early 1980s, Milan was going through its most traumatic period. Former president Felice Colombo, members of his board and some players were involved in the 'Caso Totonero'
(blackjack), the illegal betting and match fixing scandal that rocked Italian football in the 1979-1980 season. As a result, Milan were administratively relegated to Serie B and began a dark period from which they could not escape. Despite the arrival of stars such as Paolo Rossi, top scorer in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, or the hiring of symbols such as Nils Liedholm to the bench, Milan did not get off the ground again. Berlusconi would become the end of Rossoneri's troubles.
He took over from Giuseppe Farina in the presidency, brought optimism to the stands, millions to the coffers and, above all, a new philosophy for the team. He set himself the goal of becoming the best club in the world by always opting for attacking football that would be attractive to fans.
To achieve this ambitious goal, he relied on the coach he had fallen in love with when he faced him in the Italian Cup. He trusted Arrigo Sacchi.
An unknown, with no past as a footballer, he was in charge of one of the most successful teams in Europe, making front-page coverage in the Italian press. The headslines that considered Berlusconi's gamble to be wrong were multiplying. They accused him of losing his mind. It was too shocking that someone who had not previously been a professional footballer should take over one of the giants of Italian football. That was the first obstacle Sacchi encountered in his promotion to the elite. It was a rare thing at the time. Ottavio Bianchi coached Napoli, Rino Marchesi coached Juventus, both of whom had a history with the Italian national team, and the illustrious Giovanni Trappatoni
, who was a European champion in Rossoneri colours, sat on the Inter Milan bench. However, Milan's fate was in the hands of a rookie who was not known for his footballing skills. Replacing a myth like Liedholm didn't make things any easier either. Sacchi defended himself as his Milan would later, knocking out the critics with a simple phrase: "I didn't know that to become a jockey, you first have to be a horse"
Despite the doubts of the surroundings, there was total confidence in Arrigo Sacchi at the club. Silvio Berlusconi gave his new manager full powers to build a team to suit him. "My work at Milan is made possible by a great club. A club that was positively impressed by what I did at Parma, that believed in a few things and followed me completely. They even threw out some players who were undoubtedly valuable, but who were not functional and others who were not professionally as I wanted them to be,"
says the Italian coach. Sacchi does not give out any names so as not to reveal the identity of these non-functional or unprofessional players, but to draw your own conclusions you need only look at the list of players who left Milan that summer in 1987. Agostino Di Bartolomei set out for Cesena despite being the player who had played the most matches the previous season. Dario Bonetti, Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley, among others, followed the same path.
But the key of that summer was not in the departures, but in the arrivals. Sacchi marked a clear line in the transfer policy. "I believed in ideas and work,"
says the Italian coach, "and to do this I needed to have reliable people, people who were enthusiastic, generous, a culture of professionalism, perfectionists, and we looked for these kinds of people. Then, that they were functional to the technical project we had in mind and that they were complementary to each other."
It was within these parameters that Sacchi brought Walter Bianchi and Roberto Mussi with him from Parma, requested the signing of Carlo Ancelotti
and was given two top stars by Silvio Berlusconi's checkbook: Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. The former arrived from Ajax in exchange for 1.75 million euros. For the second, 13.5 million was paid to PSV Eindhoven. Both would become the totemic symbols of their Milan. "Van Basten was the best, but Gullit was the emblem. Without being the best he was the one who helped me the most"
, Sacchi confesses. Together, they formed the basis of the team along with promising youngsters such as Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Roberto Donadoni. Frank Rijkaard, the Holy Trinity's companion from the Rossoneri tulips
, was not due to arrive in Milan until the following summer.
After a summer of avoiding criticism and disdain while transmitting to some heavyweights that they should make the suitcase, Sacchi managed to build his Milan and this had its first test in official match in the Coppa d'Italia against Bari. The business card could not have been better. The Rossoneri won 5-0 with goals from Donadoni, Virdis, Van Basten, Gullit and Massaro, and that 23 August 1987 has become a holy day in the history of Milan. It was the moment when the team that changed the destiny of the entity was born. Three days later it would beat Como, then Monza, and then make its Serie A debut with a win over Pisa. Milan had become a machine, from the beginning, that was very difficult to stop. Disappointments such as the early elimination from the UEFA Cup against Espanyol and some unexpected results injected doubts in Berlusconi, who even flirted with Johan Cruyff to give him the Rossoneri bench, but negotiations with the Dutchman did not bear fruit. Sacchi held on to his position and ended up building one of the best teams in history.
ideas were the reconstruction of tactical values not only in Milan and Italian football, but also had a great impact on the world stage. His tactics marked a complete break with the style that was being imposed in Italy and, therefore, also in Europe. It was a tactical revolution and, as such, it required some sacrifice. Marat's death set fire to the French revolution and the assassination of Martin Luther King accelerated his 'dream'. For his own revolution, Arrigo Sacchi murdered the Libero
. The Libero represented the icon of the Catenaccio, the figure with which the hitherto unquestionable WM formation was overthrown to create a new style in which defensive concepts were varied. "Italy has a defensive mentality in general, not just in football. For centuries everyone was invading us. When I arrived, most of the attention was on the defensive phase. We had a libero and a line of markers. The offensive phase was left to the intelligence and common sense of the only creative element in the team, the number 10,"
he says in 'Inverting The Pyramid'.
Sacchi changed everything. He abolished the law of the sweeper to form a very forward four-man defensive line
that was perfectly synchronised to zonal marking and managing offside when necessary. Franco Baresi was in charge of the back line and marked the line over which the rest of the defence was to be deployed.
Such a forward defensive line meant that spaces were reduced, providing a key safety net for the other two lines to push the opposition's ball out of their control. Thus, if an opposing player crossed a line, he immediately crashed into the next one. "We wanted to get the ball back as quickly as possible,
" says Sacchi, as if it were the simplest thing in the world. However, every move of that pressure was totally studied. To the extent that there was a false pressure, like the striker: "Sometimes we practised a false pressure. We pretended to put pressure, but in reality we used that time to recover our strength".
That kind of defensive work was the first necessary condition for a footballing bet that depended solely and exclusively on ruling the game through possession. Without the ball there was no plan. So it was necessary to get it back as soon as possible. In a way, it was a reinvention of Rinus Michels' total football. "We had the presumption, also the hope, of knowing how to do everything. We wanted to get the ball away from our opponents quickly and when we had it, we wanted to know when to have possession or when to play a vertical game. We defended by attacking, by running forward,"
explains Sacchi, "and when we had the ball we knew when we had to play upright or, on the contrary, when to pass backwards, change sides."
As he talks about his tactical ideals, Sacchi seems to have moved into the dressing room for a moment. He looks down, forgets about the camera, the focus and even the journalist in front of him, and stands in front of an imaginary team he's coaching before a game or during a training session. He speaks without resting. Having a tactical conversation with Sacchi is the perfect metaphor for the game that Milan played on the field: he takes possession, monopolises the words and leaves hardly any space for the interlocutor to interact.
He is the unequivocal master of the dialogue and one can only shut up, listen and learn. "We trained believing that pressure was important because it allowed us to grow our self-esteem and personality and impose on others a rhythm of play they were not used to. We also tried to condition them when they had the ball. But when we had the ball we had to know how to manage it and understand if it was time to play vertically or start again with the ball, change the game or change the zone. It was a team that I think knew everything and was played by excellent performers, with a great club behind them. We had the interpreters and they were all functional. For me, they were the best players in the world, all 18 of them. I knew that wasn't the case, but I wouldn't have swapped them for anyone else,"
he concludes, before taking a breath. By way of false pressure, we intuited.
Paradoxically, that Milan that needed the ball so much to represent their football ideas on the field, often worked out without it. The ball was not a usual assistant in Milanello, training center of the Milan team. Sometimes, Arrigo Sacchi designed purely theoretical work sessions in which the players did not even need to jump onto the field. At other times, he encouraged positional play and Sacchi forced his disciples to show him where they should be on the pitch depending on where an imaginary ball was.
The coach would walk around the pitch and the players would have to correct their position with millimetric precision. His tactics revolutionised Italian football to the point where the foundations of the game were called into question. Italian teams were divided internally according to the characteristics of their players. Some had the responsibility to defend and others were in charge of attacking, being exempt from running backwards. With Sacchi, although this had already happened with Michels, both parties merged to reward the block. They all ran to get the ball back and they all represented basic pieces in the creation of attacking football. With Sacchi came the supremacy of the group over the individual in the Serie A.
Sacchi's Milan reached its peak in the European Cup. During his time on the Rossoneri bench he gave Silvio Berlusconi a Scudetto, an Italian Super Cup, two European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and, above all, two European Cups.
But, above the titles, key moments are remembered, matches in which Milan was consecrated as one of the best teams of all times. Probably one of those matches was the one that pitted them against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the 1988-1989 European Cup.
Sacchi was facing his second season at the head of Milan. After winning Serie A, he had to export his success to Europe, where Berlusconi's most coveted ambition lay: the European Cup. After beating Bulgaria's Vitosha Sofia (2-7 on aggregate), Red Star on penalties and Werder Bremen with a solitary goal from Marco van Basten in the second leg, he would face Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Although the Merengue players barely remembered those European Cups that Di Stefano won in black-and-white television, they had brought together a generation that had been thrilling the stands: the Quinta del Buitre.
The Butragueños, Michel and company were joining international stars like Hugo Sanchez to dream again with the trophy with big ears. There was plenty of talent in Madrid and it was, along with Milan, the fashionable team in Europe. It was unquestionable that the Spanish capital smelled of the Seventh, but the first leg generated doubts. After 90 minutes, the score was a 1-1 draw, but the feeling was very different. Sacchi remembers it clearly and confesses that even Butragueño recognized to him years later that he did not know how they had obtained that draw in the Bernabéu. "Butragueño told me when I was at Real Madrid - when he was vice-president and had been a great player since he was little and therefore knew everything about Real Madrid - that he had never seen in his life, having followed football and having played it, "a team that came to the Bernabeu to do what you did. We managed to recover a draw not knowing how. You looked like twenty and we looked like ten or eleven. You attacked even Buyo"
, recounts the Italian.
The key to Milan's dominance in Madrid was once again pressure, the hallmark of Sacchi's Milan. Such was the superiority shown by the visitors that, when adding up an insufficient result, the Milan players went into a state of depression. Sacchi had to work as a psychologist to lift the spirits of his team and show them the way to seal their qualification for the European Cup final. "I remember that in the following 15 days I was telling the players: 'Remember that at certain levels, when you have to win and you don't win, you lose nine times out of ten. So either we make a masterpiece or we lose here"
. That work of motivation was the first stone to build what later has been considered the Opera Prima of Milan
. Milan has given three artistic jewels to the world: the Scala, the Duomo and the Manita to Real Madrid.
Milan came back with a 5-0 win at the San Siro, although things did not start off well. So much that as soon as the match got underway, Sacchi considered removing his main star Marco van Basten from the field. "When they came here, Madrid started well, we didn't start so well; van Basten was static, so much so that I immediately got a striker warming up. I remember Ramaccioni saying to me: 'Arrigo, calm down a bit',"
said Sacchi. Then came the stroke of genius. All it took was a tactical move and the game changed in favour of the Rossoneri. Carlo Ancelotti was the embodiment of the strategy. To find the origin, you have to go back a few days before the meeting. "Carlo unlocked everything,"
analyses Sacchi, "and that's how I see football. On Tuesday, Evani had been injured in a clash with Albertini; because we trained on Tuesday as if it was already the match, with that strength. I had many solutions to replace him: to put Donadoni as a winger, who although many journalists put him there, we didn't use as a winger. We used him as a midfielder, the fourth central player, because if he ended up on the right or left wing, he bothered the wings, which were Evani and Colombo. Or putting Virdis in attack with Van Basten and Gullit as a midfielder in Donadoni's place, but Gullit didn't guarantee me on a tactical level what Donadoni guaranteed me... In the end I played the player least likely to replace Evani, who was Ancelotti, but he was the most available and gave me his 100%."
The gamble proved to be perfect: "The prize was that the first goal was scored by Ancelotti. And then he played the final in that position too. What did the Steaua coach do? He put Hagi in that area, but he didn't know that we never had a marker, we had two or three, because our team was, in that way, compact, short in that period of time compared to the others, but we were always going to mark with two or three men. And this happened against Real Madrid, where we had a numerical superiority in the pressure on the ball." Sacchi believes that the basis of the victory over Real Madrid was, as it was throughout his career, the importance of the team over the individuals. "They had players with great technique, probably better than us, but we were a great team. They had a group, but less of a team than we did. And in football the collective achieves more than the individual. You have to know this,"
says the Italian. That victory marks the definitive explosion of Milan, who went on to become the dominant force in European football.
After that, they won the Intercontinental Cup
against Nacional de Medellin and went on to reach the footballing heavens. However, that match also represented the change in the way teams faced Milan. The Colombians were the first daring ones who forced Arrigo's thoughts to change. "With Nacional of Medellin they were the ones who made things difficult for us because for the first time we were up against a team that attacked us a lot. Then, of hunters we became hunted. It took us tranquility, security. This requires patience, which is a virtue I have not always had, but at that time I had it. I remember that at half-time Van Basten said to me: 'We are not well, we are not in shape, we have to have patience'. It wasn't a pretty game, but I was amazed at how many people said it was bad. Those people never understood that Milan were playing great football. I have to say that it was a game similar to reading a Kafka book: heavy, difficult,"
says Sacchi for El Enganche about that 1-0 win for Evani in the last minute of extra time, which represented the club's second Intercontinental and the first one to be shown in his living room. Milan, however, were already a despotic side who had challenged the previously dominant footballing laws and turned them to their advantage.
Despite the successes achieved with his Milan, Arrigo Sacchi was not lacking detractors. His style was so far removed from Italian traditions that some were unable to digest the change. "Even now it is said that when Milan played well it was because they had good players and when they played badly it was because Sacchi was there,"
joked the Italian coach, seeking complicity. Gianni Brera, the legendary Italian sports journalist, was one of his fiercest critics. Brera, an exquisite connoisseur of football and tactics, professed admiration for a doctrine that was antithetical to that represented by Sacchi's Milan. His attacks on the ideas of the revolutionary coach were commonplace in the Gazzetta dello Sport. Although Arrigo was intelligent to take advantage of these criticisms and reverse them in his favour. Before the 1989 European Cup final against Steaua Bucharest, he used an article by Brera to motivate his players. "I remember before the final with Steaua, that the greatest Italian sports critic, the poor Brera, an excellent writer, very good indeed, but with footballing ideas very distant from ours, said: 'Milan will play against the champions of dancing football, against the champions of possession of the ball, they will have to wait for it, defend it and go on the counterattack'. On Tuesday before the match the best Italian sports journalist wrote this and I read it because I needed to know his convictions. You cannot say 'do it because I say so'. According to him, we had to use that strategy. Gullit stood up and said 'we'll attack them from the first second until we have the forces. Okay, everybody? And we did."
However, Sacchi's most surprising enemy was not Brera, but was hiding in his own dressing room: Marco van Basten.
Known to all, the relationship between the two was not good. So much so that the Dutchman often questioned him in front of the group.
Sometimes he found it hard to see the logic in his coach's approach, and so he let him know. "Van Basten asked me why the others were winning and why we had to win and convince them. He also told me that we worked too hard and didn't have any fun. I always told him: 'You're a clever boy and you have to have fun in a different way. We're here to make sure the audience has a good time. He never understood that you can't get a lot without giving a lot. Van Basten has been an extraordinary player for me, not easy to manage, but extraordinary,"
says Sacchi. Years after their paths diverged, Sacchi and van Basten crossed paths again and the Dutchman acknowledged his mistakes: "When World Soccer recognised not too long ago that Milan had been the best team of all time, from when football existed, I said to him: 'Did you understand why we had to win and convince? And he said: 'I understood. And I understood something else too. Now I am a coach and I understand how many problems I created for you"
. And I said to him: "If I can console you, I didn't solve many of them."
Nevertheless, Sacchi admits that he wouldn't have swapped van Basten for any other player, either of the time or of the present. "When they tell me 'between Ronaldo and van Basten who would you have signed,' I have no doubt: van Basten. But not because van Basten was more talented than Ronaldo, but because he was more functional in terms of our style of football and was a professional who gave more guarantees than Ronaldo, who was an unimaginable talent."
While the estrangement with Marco van Basten was evident, Sacchi had a close relationship with another Dutchman in the team: Ruud Gullit. He was his main support in the dressing room and the player through whom he injected his philosophy to the rest of the players. "Gullit was considered the emblem, for me he was a phenomenal player and an extraordinary person; probably the one who helped me the most without being the best, because the best was van Basten, but he had personality while van Basten hid himself, he was discontinuous. Gullit helped me a lot in making Italian players who always ran backwards run forward. He was the most convinced of this,"
he says. Sacchi changed the philosophy of Italian football, but Gullit transformed the philosophy of the Milan dressing room. The combination of the two Italian players made Rinus Michels' total football a success, building a Milan that would go down in history.
After winning everything with Milan, he took over the reins of the Italian national team
with whom he was second in the 1994 World Cup. He then went through an erratic career with a brief return to Milan and a few stints with Atletico Madrid and Parma before making the jump to the offices. With the perspective of his entire career, it's time to ask the same question as at the start: what was Italian football like before Sacchi? How have things changed since his revolution? Sacchi himself answers: "There has clearly been some change, but it is not linked to globalisation. Capello said it: 'We've rediscovered the Libero'. Most teams play with a fixed sweeper in the back." With Sacchi, Italian football learned that everyone must defend and attack as one, as a whole, without the previous attack-defence division. But it has forgotten everything else, and that takes its toll in Europe: "More and more we are getting slapped around and then we say: 'Why don't we spend? Why don't we use more start-up money? Then it happens that Borussia Dortmund reach the final and spend less than most of the big Italian teams or that Atletico Madrid reach the final of Champions and spend less. Our clubs are full of foreigners, full of fear, full of an eminently defensive football, playing with a sweeper. Then the result when they play at international level, where they find themselves with one less player in midfield or in attack, with the rival having players of level and leaving the ball and the initiative to them... well, they put you in difficulties". "Also because outside the country, in general, they're much better at attacking than defending. So, if you want to put them in trouble, you have to attack them, not stop their attack. But all this requires work, organization, time, planning, programming and less improvised teams, teams that make some sense. What does a sense mean? Putting each value in its place. Since we are talking about a team sport, let's start with what unites the team: the game. What is the game about? From ideas and work. And without ideas and work, you don't have the game. If you don't have the game you rely only on individuals, and no individuality will ever have the power of a team. In some teams, this tendency to improvise - which we call fantasy - causes total disorganisation, with the consequence of losing the team,"
he adds to close a precise X-ray of the ills that Italian football is suffering from. Three decades after the birth of Sacchi's Milan, Italy has forgotten everything it has learned. There is no trace of the game with high pressure, offside is just another resource and even the sweeper, whose assassination triggered everything, has come back to life. Sacchi is a revolutionary without revolution. No one has been able to pick up on his witness. Italy has forgotten him, but football hasn't. Football just cannot forget the creator of one of the best teams in its history. by Massimo Callegari & Francisco Orti for El Enganche.es (2016).