DEL PUNTAPIÉ INICIAL A LA PASIÓN SIN FRONTERAS

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En una taberna londinense, 12 hombres se reunieron en torno a una mesa un lunes por la noche, para definir las reglas de este deporte que se transformó en un negocio que atrae a billones de adeptos.
Una batalla sangrienta disputada con cráneos de adversarios de guerra en la China hace cuatro mil años, evolucionó a lo largo de los siglos y se transformó en los últimos 150 años en el deporte más popular del planeta, capaz de reunir 3.200 millones de personas delante de un televisor para asistir a un único partido, como el de la final de la Copa del Mundo 2010.
Prohibido por los reyes y definido por los pensadores como un “deporte bárbaro, que estimula la cólera y la enemistad», en el inicio del 1800 el fútbol dio el puntapié inicial para su modernización. Fue hace 150 años, en una taberna de Londres, la noche del 26 de octubre de 1863. Significó el comienzo de la historia del deporte más amado y rentable del mundo. Un claro ejemplo: la FIFA reúne 204 selecciones mientras que sólo 193 países son reconocidos por la ONU.
En una mesa en la Freemason’s Tavern ubicada en el centro de Londres, el Presidente del Barnes Club, Ebenezer Morley, convocó a 11 representantes de otros grupos para unificar las reglas del deporte que era practicado en Inglaterra hacía casi mil años. El mismo se había popularizado en el Siglo XIX, pero cada grupo lo jugaba con sus propios códigos. En esa misma reunión, los dirigentes fundaron la Football  Association (FA), antecesora de la actual Federación Inglesa.
No fue esa la primera tentativa de unificar las reglas. Desde 1823, en diversas escuelas públicas británicas el fútbol se convirtió en una actividad obligatoria. En Oxford y Westminster, se usaban solamente los pies para tocar la pelota. En Cheltenham y Shrewsbury, eran permitidos las manos y los pies (llamado rugby). Una tercera variante, el Football Rugby, también ganaba adeptos entre los estudiantes.
Hermanos que nacieron juntos, el rugby y el football se separaron luego de su “infancia”. El Rugby fue el primero en modernizarse, ya que en 1846 los estudiantes Thomas Arnold y Williams Webb determinaron las primeras normas. El football, con sus primeros códigos definidos, nació dos años después, en la Universidad de Cambridge, cuando quedó prohibido tocar el balón con manos y brazos. En 1857, surgieron las reglas de Sheffield, que privilegiaron la modalidad practicada con los pies. Ese mismo año fue creado el Sheffield FC, el más antiguo del mundo, activo hoy en día en el ascenso del futbol inglés. Fue el período de gestación para el nacimiento de la mayor pasión del mundo moderno.
Para convertirse en el deporte más popular del mundo, el fútbol se fue adaptando a las necesidades de crecimiento y de la modernidad. Insultar a la madre de un árbitro, solo fue posible a partir de 1874, cuando apareció un juez para cada lado del campo. Sin embargo, hasta 1891 los mismos sólo podían sancionar penales. Muchos años después pudieron marcar tarjetas amarillas y rojas, en la Copa del Mundo de 1970. Otros elementos fundamentales del juego también fueron admitidos con el pasar de los años, como la función del arquero (1871), las líneas de las áreas (1902), las sustituciones (a partir de 1958), hasta el último cambio autorizado por la FIFA: la incorporación de la tecnología en la línea de gol.
En la propia Inglaterra el deporte no fue apoyado por los gobernantes. El fútbol comenzó a ser practicado alrededor del año 900, apenas en ocasiones festivas, pero aun así se popularizó entre los ingleses. Por aquel entonces, valía todo. El saldo de piernas quebradas, dientes arrancados e tantos otros accidentes llevó al Rey Eduardo III a prohibirlo en 1331, actitud repetida por otros gobernantes en los siglos siguientes.

Con la expansión del número de practicantes en el siglo 18, la reunión del 26 de octubre de 1863 se hacía necesaria. Las 13 reglas fueron publicadas a comienzos de diciembre y difundidas en cartillas. El día 19 del mismo mes, en la cancha de Limes, se disputó el primer partido con las nuevas reglas: fue un empate sin goles entre Barnes y Richmond. En 1871, comenzó a ser disputada la Copa de Inglaterra, la competición más antigua del orbe, hasta hoy realizada anualmente. En 1882, fue creada la International Football Association Board, órgano que todavía sigue reglamentando las normas del fútbol, a pesar de la aparición de la FIFA en 1904, a la cual sigue ligada hoy.

Actualmente, el fútbol es un mundo aparte, motor de la economía mundial. Desde 1930, la FIFA organiza la Copa del Mundo, el evento de gala del deporte. Pero el gran impulso de dicho organismo fue a partir de la elección de João Havelange. Desde entonces se transformó en una máquina de hacer dinero. Acompañada por empresas de marketing deportivo, la FIFA atrajo a las más importantes marcas como patrocinadoras. Para tener una idea del crecimiento de la facturación en ese período, en 1990 los derechos de transmisión de la Copa de Italia fueron vendidos por 65 millones de dólares. En 2006, en la Copa da Alemania, el valor alcanzó los 1.970 millones de dólares.

El fútbol fue adaptándose a la evolución de las sociedades, proponiendo siempre, con la adaptación de sus reglas, adecuarse siempre al presente. Pero nada hubiese sido lo que es sin aquel puntapié en la taberna Freemason’s de Londres, donde los precursores se juntaron para decidir la creación de un reglamento para este mágico deporte.

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About Author

56 años, escritor. El fútbol y el rugby, mis pasiones. San Lorenzo de Almagro un sentimiento. Escribir sobre fútbol y sus protagonistas, un oficio que intento aprender día a día.

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