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How Alejandro Nicolás De los Santos Became The First Of Just 3 Black Soccer Players To Represent Argentina

How Alejandro Nicolás De los Santos Became The First Of Just 3 Black Soccer Players To Represent Argentina
Alejandro<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Nicolás<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>De los Santos Photo via LCFC

 

You could call him a pioneer of Black footballers in Argentina, but only a few people are aware of his story. Alejandro Nicolás De los Santos was the first of only three Afro-Argentine players to play for Argentina. Juan Manuel Ramos Delgado and Héctor Baley were the other two.

De los Santos was born on May 17, 1902, in the city of Paraná, near the Uruguay border, to Angolan parents. At home, the entire family spoke Portuguese. When De los Santos’ parents died, tragedy struck. He had to relocate to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, where his football skills drew the attention of Third Division club Oriente del Sud.

He excelled at the club, earning him a move to the top flight with San Lorenzo. He made his First Division debut for the club five days after his 19th birthday, scoring against Banfield. In 1921, he transferred to Sportivo Dock Sud, where he earned his first of five Argentina caps a year later.

By 1924, he had transferred to El Porvenir, where he scored 80 goals in 148 games over the course of seven years. He became a club legend as a result of this feat. In 1925, De los Santos assisted Argentina in winning the South American Championship on home soil. However, his skin color prevented him from doing more for the Argentine team. He was not invited to the World Cup in 1930. According to LCFC, while Argentina’s neighbor Uruguay permitted Blacks to play for its national team, Argentina did not. According to LCFC, their footballers were “almost exclusively white,” reflecting what was going on in the country at the time.

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In 1931, De los Santos joined Huracán, one of Argentina’s most well-known clubs. He only stayed for three years before leaving to work as a customs officer at the port of Buenos Aires. He died on February 16, 1982, and many people have wondered why Argentina does not have more Black players than other South American countries like Brazil decades later. According to Erika Edwards, there were jokes in 2014 about how even Germany’s soccer team had at least one Black player, while Argentina appeared to have none during that year’s World Cup Final.

Four years earlier, the government of Argentina released a census that revealed that 149 493 people, or less than 1% of the population, were Black. Argentina was portrayed as a white nation in this way. However, history shows that Africans arrived in Argentina’s Rio de la Plata region decades ago to work in plantations and as domestic servants. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, they spread to other parts of the country. There are a few theories as to why the African population in Argentina has decreased over time.

According to one of these theories, the majority of Africans died in the 1865 Paraguayan war between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance, which included Uruguay, the Empire of Brazil, and Argentina. Most Africans are said to have signed up for the deadly war, which resulted in their mass deaths.

The country had experienced a number of crises, including high infant mortality rates, cholera and yellow fever epidemics in the 1860s and 1874, respectively.

The other theory is that Argentina’s seventh president, Domingo Sarmiento, carried out a massive genocide against Africans in Argentina. Between 1868 and 1874, Sarmiento allegedly implemented oppressive policies that resulted in the deaths of many Blacks, gauchos (people of Spanish descent), and native Argentinians. Forcing Black people into the military, forcing them to live in poor neighborhoods without adequate health care, and carrying out mass executions were among them.

Because black people were largely forgotten and ignored, the Argentine government did not include them in the national census of 1895.

Another theory holds that, as a result of the 1853 Constitution, Argentina focused more on whitening the country by bringing in white immigrants from Europe. This was exacerbated by Black emigration to Uruguay and Brazil, where they felt more welcome. Many Afro-Argentine groups have worked over the years to raise awareness of their presence as well as the sociopolitical and economic issues they face.

 

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Written by How Africa News

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