Over the course of the weekend, during the Brazil-Venezuela match of the 2011 Copa America, Hugo Sanchez made several disparaging remarks about the vinotinto, the Venezuelan squad. Through the course of the match, Sanchez–the greatest Mexican footballer of all time (at least until Chicharito usurps him) and soccer commentator for Univision– took shot after shot against the South American squad, insulting and belittling them. the following:
- “Es que acaso es mentira que historicamente han sido mediocres?” (“Is it really a lie that historically speaking they’ve been mediocre?”)
- “Los jugadores buenos nacidos en Venezuela “ni locos’ se les ocurre representar la vinotinto, sino que juegan con España o Portugal.” (“The good players born in Venezuela aren’t crazy enough to represent la vinotinto, instead they play with Spain or Portugal.”)
-”Venezuela antes jugaba de blanco, luego de recibir tanto palo salían ensangrentados y por eso su camisa es vinotinto.” (“Venezuela used to play in white, but after receiving such beatings they’d come out bloody, and that’s why their jerseys are burgundy.”)
Yeah, Hugol, you’ve done messed up and as a result, brought upon the ire of the Twitters worldwide.
Still, with that said, we’re compelled to– are we really about to say this?– defend him. Here’s why:
There’s no way around it: Hugo Sanchez is a bonafide, world-class idiot. Winning the “Pichichi” trophy (awarded to La Liga’s top goal scorer), or being a world-class athlete, doesn’t equate to being intelligent. And yet, we live in a society in which we give a loudspeaker– along with millions of dollars– to these people. Why? Just because they played the sport at a high level doesn’t make them qualified to comment.
This goes beyond soccer, too. American football is a prime example of former great players being craptastically awful commentators. The most glaring example is Troy Aikman, the top game announcer for NFL On Fox. Aikman is a six-time Pro-Bowler, 3-time Super Bowl Champion, Hall-Of-Famer, and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. You would think that with his resume, Aikman would be a natural at calling a game, right?
Nope. If you watch the above clip of Aikman giving his two cents on the Packers Super Bowl victory, you’ll find that he’s dull and stiff, his insights are obvious and simplistic, and is really bad at his job. Hugo Sanchez is the same way, if not worse. El Pentapichichi is far from being good at his job. His lack of intellect is grounds enough to dismiss whatever idiotic comment he makes.
Making this argument is putting ourselves at risk of getting some hate, but it’s true. Despite crassness of Sanchez’s comments, they’re not entirely off the mark, at least when it comes to the first comment we’ve listed above. The Mexican commentator should have exercised decency in what he said, but the fact remains that Venezuela has been sub-par in international play.
The South American squad has never participated in a FIFA World Cup largely because they have never been good enough. Between 1966– the first time Venezuela tried to qualify for the tournament– until 1994, they amassed a whopping two wins in qualifying play (these victories came in 1982 and 1994).
At the continental level, Venezuela’s best performance at a Copa America was in 1967–their first participation in the tournament– when they finished in fifth place. Their next 12 Copa America finishes? Eliminated in the first round.
Hugo Sanchez was obviously wrong to pick on Venezuela like that. It was completely uncalled for, straight up unprofessional, and out of line given that Venezuela held Brazil scoreless in their match. The only reason he has a job is because of his past footballistic accomplishments. That, and because he serves as a great punching bag for the other two commentators:
Our advice to you, Venezuela: ignore Hugo Sanchez and stick to baseball.