Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Argentina's football league to be called The Crucero General Belgrano First Division

With the thirty year anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom approaching, both countries have recently become more and more fixated on political rhetoric and squabbling.

This squabble is of course demeaning to the British and Argentine soldiers who gave their lives in the war and is also degrading to the Islanders whose voice seems to be heard less and less. UK headlines say 'Fernandez said this’ and the ‘Argies are doing this’, while on a daily basis in Argentina papers are dominated by ‘Cameron calls us this’ and ‘the pirates are robbing us of this’.

It is clear that talking about the islands serves both Cameron and Fernandez well politically. But unless the UK Premier has the intention of becoming uncharacteristically anti-banking and changing the name of the Barclays Premier League, then for now CFK has got one up on her British counterpart.

The Belgrano sinking
Her government has decided to rename the upcoming Torneo Clausura, the national first division football season which starts this Friday 10th February. It will now be known as The Crucero General Belgrano First Division, in honour to the naval ship sunk by the British during the 1982 conflict.

Of the 649 Argentine servicemen who perished during the military campaign, half were crew members of the Belgrano and so the incident is one of the most controversial of the war.

The British story says the ship was preparing to attack the islands, while the official Argentine version of events still maintains that The General Belgrano was outside the exclusion zone. This is despite the fact that Argentine naval officers have confirmed they were regrouping to attack and the British possess intercepted Argentine communications which suggest the same.

The Belgrano may have ended her life as an Argentine vessel in the South Atlantic seas but she started it entirely differently.

A Brooklyn-Class Light Cruiser laid down on 15 April 1935 and launched on 13 March 1938, she was in fact North American built; constructed by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in New Jersey and named the USS Phoenix.

She was present at Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 and became one of the few ships to survive the Japanese attacks that infamous morning. The USS Phoenix even managed to open fire on the planes which were crashing down around her.

The Belgrano, then USS Phoenix at Pearl Harbour
She then became active during the remainder of World War Two taking part in various military exercises which saw her sail from Australia to New Guinea to Ceylon. And she was the target of further kamikaze attacks in late 1944 as she assaulted Mindoro in the Philippines in an attempt to give the Allies a base from which they could better control the South China Sea and fire at Japanese ships.

After the war the Phoenix was decommissioned on 3 July 1946 and then sold to Argentina on 9 April 1951. Renamed the ARA General Belgrano she was hit and sunk by a torpedo fired from the British Submarine, HMS Conqueror.

The present Argentine government, led by Cristina Kirchner de Fernandez, nationalised football television rights two years ago and by renaming the first division in honour of the Belgrano, hopes to further highlight Argentina’s claim over the islands. 

An Argentine ad kicking out British Pirates from Argentine Islands


  1. This issue stifles Argentine foreign policy that now seems like one-issue obsession: is this really in the interest of that country? I very much doubt it!

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