Naranjazos, or The Politics of Soccer

The phrase “I learned to kick before I could walk” is often used in Latin America to refer to the sport’s ingrained nature in Hispanic households. My household was no different: futbol was part
of my identity from an early age.

Naranjazos, or the Politics of Soccer, looks at the dirty side of futbol through the lenses of gender, race, and class. By co-opting objects used in the game like the ball, instant replay, and warning cards, I hope to begin to subvert the sport itself and provide a deeper level of commentary about the ways in which oppressive systems are unavoidable, even in a game as revered as soccer.

Questioning the concept of gender and its norms, helps make visible the violence and inequality that continue to impact women. Race issues show similar violence. However, when talking about Latin America specifically, the question of race is far more complicated as mestizaje (the mixing of different races) complicates the place of mixed-race individuals in society. Class, while tied very much to gender and race, exalts the imbalance of political and economic power.

As a sport, soccer is treated as a welcome distraction-or in my case, as a family heirloom. However, I believe soccer goes beyond that and serves as a reflection of our society. Soccer explains the world around us. The sense of team and unity found in sports reflects the nationalist fervour that arises, for example, from our government’s efforts to oppress marginalized communities. WIth this project, some of the questions I seek to consider are: how do Latin Americans view and misrepresent gender in soccer? Where does mestizaje fall in discussions of race and sports? How does the development of a stadium displace and recreate de jure segregation in America? Topics of gender, race, and class are taboo in a field that is predominantly white and male, and our understanding of these issues pushes design beyond pure aesthetics.