Face to face with «El Tinto» Sosa
For Gonza, who boasts of having no ideals and no belief in miracles and yet is a fan of Newell’s.
It is Monday morning, and the year 2030 is just beginning. “El Tinto” Sosa, about to turn 24, is already unanimously named the best player on the planet, a worthy successor to Lionel Messi and much further back in time, to Diego Maradona. Some even dare to describe him as the new “best player of all times”.
He carries on his shoulders the responsibility of winning the next World Cup, to be held during June and July of this year. Argentina will play at home after more than fifty years and will try to repeat the championship title obtained in Russia 2018.
Outstanding number 10 of the Argentine National Team, it is his behavior outside of it that has made him an even more surprising character. Not only because, according to his repeated statements, he will only play for Newell’s, but also because he has decided to use his soccer weight to get involved in the management issues of the club and the AFA (Argentine Soccer Association).
Only a few can understand why “El Tinto” rejects, year after year, the ultra-million dollar offers from the clubs in Europe that want him in their teams. Instead, he chooses to continue playing at Newell’s, his beloved club, where he belongs since the day he was born when his father decided to enroll him following a long family tradition of red and black fanaticism.
It is on these topics that we will chat with “El Tinto”, at a table in the dining room of Newell’s Old Boys club, in Rosario.
Why do you insist on rejecting the million-dollar offers that come from abroad?
Well, the truth is that I don’t insist on rejecting them, but they insist on making them, even though I have already publicly declared that I will never play in any club other than Newell’s.
And what is the reason for this decision?
It’s very simple. I’m a Newell’s fan, so I play for Newell’s. Don’t you think so? Why would I play for another team when I have the opportunity to do it for mine? Why would I give up celebrating the goals of my own club, along with other teammates who feel the same about our colors? Why would I choose to celebrate the goals of a foreign team, together with foreign spectators?
Well, money could be a good reason. You could earn up to thirty times as much playing for a team from abroad.
It’s true, but it doesn’t seem like a good reason to me. Money is never a good reason for anyone who has a choice. Playing for another team for money is like supporting another team for money. Would you do it? The difference is that for some reason I don’t understand, the first is accepted and the second is not, although, in essence, it is the same.
On the other hand, my contract with Newell’s is very good. If I make a million a year, can you explain why I would want thirty?
Well, maybe the reason could be professional, the possibility of playing with the best and against the best …
I don’t think it’s like that. Argentine soccer has a very high level and, with a good performance, like the one we have in Newell’s, we can play every year against the best teams in South America, including the Brazilian teams. And by playing for the Argentine National Team it is also possible to achieve a state of first-level competition.
Also, let’s be clear: the European tournaments are not exactly full of great players. That happens only in the big teams of each country. Hopefully, there are three or four, while the rest have a rather low level. I tell you that I would like to see those medium-sized teams (and the big ones too!) playing against the rough teams of our National B, like River, Central, or Belgrano.
And what about the challenge of making history in the great European teams?
Honestly, I prefer to make history in Newell’s and Argentina, which I assure you is a much greater and more satisfying challenge. Who would deny that the goal of achieving a Newell’s world championship is much greater than that of doing so with Real Madrid? There is no comparison. With Real Madrid everything is more accessible; Newell’s is a whole different story.
The concept that Europe is the center of soccer is wrong. We have to stop looking at Europe. Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay can be the center of soccer. We have to assume it, accept it, and act accordingly. We don’t need to copy or aspire to something more than what is ours, with the history we have.
What do you think about the fact that your philosophy of belonging has inspired others to do the same? Do you realize that you are starting a revolution?
I don’t know if I would call it a revolution. It’s simpler than that: I’m from Newell’s, I play at Newell’s. If following that idea is to start a revolution, it means we’re fucked. And yes, we’re fucked. But there is also a light at the end of the tunnel. Because besides me, as you say, other players are choosing to do the same. That is very promising for years to come because it marks a path and an example for all the kids who are starting up.
Are you aware that this move is raising the level of Argentine soccer, its income, and, as a consequence, the players’ income?
Yes, I am aware of this, and I think it’s very positive, although I repeat: let’s not just look at the question of money. There is something called a thirst for glory, and I can assure you that it is much more rewarding.
You also made headlines by getting involved in Newell’s management issues. Which ones and why did you decide to do it?
I’d like to clarify that it is something we decided to do together with all my teammates, although for a matter of media impact, I am the one who shows his face.
We decided to do it because there were things that were going wrong, and we have the power to change that. What kind of players would we be if, after collecting millionaire contracts, we ignored the mismanagement of the club? We believe that, as players, we play a crucial role in the possibility of influencing the club positively and, therefore, we have the responsibility to do so.
However, I should make it clear that we only get involved in issues of great importance, such as issues related to corruption or violence. We seek to make contributions that transcend us.
For example, we have promoted the implementation of an eight-point series to improve the transparency of the management of funds, the result of a consultancy work that we financed. Also, as is known to all, we have supported criminal complaints against club managers involved in corruption cases. Of course, we are not club managers, and we cannot devote all day to these issues, but our positions have acquired great symbolic value and become a reference for the fans, who often lack sufficient information about what is happening inside the club.
Are you doing the same thing at the AFA?
Yes. The same, but at the national level. After the positive experience at Newell’s, I proposed to my National Teammates to do something similar, and they accepted immediately. And what pleased me most was the enthusiasm of my teammates who work abroad, as they were looking for a way to contribute to local soccer from their deserved privileged positions.
Anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Yes, I‘d like to go back to what we talked about at the beginning and reflect on it a little bit, thinking outside the box. What more can a real soccer fan ask for than to play for his team, share that dream with others like him, shout goals and win tournaments with them, and then do all that with the National Team as well? Nothing. The truth is that I don’t understand anything else.
“El Tinto” says goodbye with a smile, while offering his firm and steady hand. He gets up and walks away, without haste, among the people who idolize him and greet him meekly, with no need for outbursts. Everyone knows that tomorrow, and the following days, they will be able to find him in some corner of the renewed club facilities.
He comes to the door and warmly waves to an older man, who we don’t know but calls him “kid.” He stays chatting and laughing for a few minutes before continuing. He leaves the dining room, and we see him walking away through the central patio towards the street. He must arrive in time to his house in the center of Rosario, where his family is waiting for him to eat some good ravioli alla bolognese that his mother has been preparing all morning.
Translation by Carolina Quintana, translator and simultaneous interpreter specialized in art and literature
Original version (in spanish)