The wizard of soccer

But Nino don’t be afraid of missing a penalty kick
One does not become a good player
On the account of these details
You can tell a good player from his courage,
His selflessness, his creativity.

(F. De Gregori, La leva calcistica della classe ’68, 1982)

Carlos Henrique Raposo, a.k.a. “Kaiser”, active in the Eighties and Nineties, played in eleven soccer teams, such as Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo in Brazil, Ajaccio in Corsica and Puebla in Messico.
Eleven professional clubs, and zero goals scored in his whole career.
Yes, because Carlos Henrique Raposo, a.k.a. “Kaiser”, pretended to be a player. And in reality he was an illusionist.

Born in 1963 in a poor family, as many other Brazilian kids Carlos dreamed of a redemption made of luxury and success. He had tried to become a soccer player, without any major result: yet he had the right muscular and powerful build, so much so that he was often mistaken for a professional soccer player. Around his twenties, Carlos clearly understood his mission: “I wanted to be a player, without having to play“.
Therefore, he decided to trust his courage, selflessness and creativity.

Courage
Carlos “Kaiser” certainly had the nerve. As a nightlife aficionado and regular clubber in Rio, he managed to bond with a series of famous soccer players (Romário, Edmundo, Bebeto, Renato Gaúcho and Ricardo Rocha who later called him “the greatest conman in Brazilian football“); he offered his favors and used his connections to organize parties and meetings. In return, he began asking to be included as a makeweight in his friends’ transfer deals.
It’s importanto to keep in mind that in the mid-Eighties the internet did not exist, and it was quite difficult to find information on a new player: Carlos was enthusiastically presented by great players vouching for him, who granted him with his first professional contract (for a three-month trial) in the Botafogo club. And thus began his career, always behind the front line but nonetheless enjoying relatively high wages, and an incredible fiction which lasted more than twenty years.

kaiser-renatogaucho-pauloroberto

Selflessness
First of all, it was essential for Carlos to earn his teammates’ unconditional trust, their cover and benevolence.
As soon as I knew which hotel we would be staying in, I went there two or three days beforehand. I rented rooms for ten ladies in that hotel, so that instead of sneaking away at night, my teammates and I could simply walk down the stairs to have some fun“.
Another important step was ensuring to have some newspaper article backing up his non-existing talents. Again, that was not a problem for the “Kaiser”, thanks to his socialite connections: “I have an incredible aptitude for making friends with people. I knew several journalists very well at the time, and treated them all kindly. A little gift, some insider information could come in handy, and in return they wrote about the ‘great soccer player’ “.

Creativity
Once he obtained a contract, leaning on other players’ transfer negotiations, the second part of Carlos’ plan kicked off: how could he manage to remain in the team without the coach realizing that he wasn’t even able to kick a ball? The solution Carlos came up with was simple yet brilliant – he had to gain as much time as possible.
He started by saying he was out of shape, and that he needed to follow a special workout program with a mysterious personal trainer. He then spent the first two or three weeks running along the sidelines, without participating in the team’s exercises. After that, when he could no longer postpone his presence in the field, he asked a teammate to make an irregular entrance on him during a training game and to inflict him a (not too serious) injury. Sometimes he didn’t even need outside help, he just pretended to sprain his muscle, an injury which was difficult to verify in those years: “I preformed some strange moves during the training, I touched my muscle and then stayed in the infirmary for 20 days or so. There was no MRI at the time. Days went by, but I had a dentist friend who certified I had physical health problems. And so, months went by…
In this way, scoring zero minutes of playing time during each season, he jumped from team to team. “I always signed the Risk Contract, the shortest one, normally for a six-month period. I received the bonus, and went straight to infirmary“. To enhance his great player image, he often showed up talking in English through a huge cellular phone (a true status symbol, back then), presumably to some foreign manager offering him some outstanding deal. Unfortunately his broken English conversations made no sense whatsoever, and his cellphone was in fact a toy phone.

When he went back to Brazil, in the Bangu team, Carlos’ hoax almost collapsed. The coach, taking him by surprise, decided to summon him for the sunday match and around the half of the second time he told him to warm up. Given the dangerous situation, and the forthcoming disaster a debut would entail, Carlos reacted with an exceptional stunt: all of a sudden, he started a fight with an opposing team’s supporter. He got immediately expelled from the game. When in the locker room the coach furiously approached him, he pretended like he acted on behalf of the coach himself: “God gave me a father and then took him away from me. Now that God has given me a second father, I can’t allow anyone to insult him“. The incident ended with the coach kissing him on his forehead, and renewing his contract.
He had another stroke of genius at the time of his debut in the Ajaccio club, in Corsica, France. The new Brazilian soccer player was greeted by the supporters with unexpected enthusiasm: “the stadium was small, but crowded with people, everywhere I looked. I thought I just had to show up and cheer, but then I saw many balls on the field and I understood we would be training. I was nervous, they would realize I was not able to play on my first day”. So Carlos decided to play the last trump, trying yet another one of his tricks. He entered the playing field, and began kicking each and every ball, sending them over to the gallery, waving his hand and kissing his shirt. The supporters went into raptures, and of course never threw back the precious balls, which had been touched by the publicised champion’s foot. Once out of balls, the team had to engage in a strictly physical training, which Carlos could manage to do without problem.

Reality and lies
After leaving Guarany, aged 39, Carlos Henrique Raposo retired having played approximately 20 games – all of which ended with an injury – in approximately 20 years of professional career (the numbers are a little hazy). But he came away with a wonderful story to tell.
And here’s the only problem: practically every major anecdote about this intentionally misleading stunt comes from no other than Kaiser himself. Sure enough, his colleagues confirm the image of a young man who made up for his lack of ability with immense self-assurance and cockiness: “he is a great friend, an exquisite person. Too bad that he doesn’t even know how to play cards. He had a problem with the ball, I did not see him play in any team, ever. He told you stories about games and matches, but he never played even on Sunday afternoon in Maracanà, I can tell you that! In a lying contest against Pinocchio, Kaiser would win“, Richardo Rocha declared.
So, why should we believe this Pinocchio when he comes out of nowhere and tell us his “truth”?

Maybe because it feels good to do so. Maybe because the story of a “man without qualities”, a Mr. Nobody who pretends to be a champion, cheating big soccer corporations (which are frequently nowadays amid market scandals) is some kind of a revenge by proxy, that has many soccer aficionados grinning. Maybe because his incredible story, on a human level, could come straight out of a movie.

In the meantime, Carlos shows absolutely no regrets: “if I had been more dedicated, I could have gone further in the game“.
Not in the soccer game, of course, but in his game of illusion.

Aborto

Abbiamo meditato per lungo tempo se fosse il caso, qui a Bizzarro Bazar, di inserire un articolo riguardante l’aborto. L’interruzione prematura di una gravidanza non ha nulla di meraviglioso, di fantastico o di strano. Certo è un evento macabro, come qualsiasi morte, ma sarebbe facile distorcere a proprio piacimento il senso di un post su un argomento tanto delicato, al centro di un dibattito etico che si prolunga da anni.

Se decidiamo infine di affrontare la questione è perché, in definitiva, guardato con il tipo giusto di occhi, si tratta effettivamente di qualcosa di strano e incredibile. Qualcosa che solo gli esseri umani sono arrivati a concepire. E allo stesso tempo sembra che l’informazione al riguardo sia piuttosto scarsa, e sempre “di seconda mano”. Tante volte abbiamo qui sostenuto il dovere di esperire con i propri sensi, di formarsi una propria opinione, al di là delle regole morali o delle facili strumentalizzazioni. Abbiamo dato spazio a tutto ciò che è altro e deviante, cercando di immedesimarci e di comprendere qualcosa in più sulla natura umana. Per quanto riguarda l’aborto, l’identificazione con una donna che è di fronte al terribile bivio dovrebbe essere altettanto importante. Vorremmo qui proporre una visione semplice e diretta, scioccante (ma è giusto che lo sia) e senza sconti, di una pratica che divide e infervora. Cosa significa veramente avere un aborto? Quali sono le conseguenze?

La legge italiana permette a una donna di interrompere la gravidanza qualora lo desideri, e qualora questo non implichi complicazioni di salute. In Italia il termine entro il quale si può scegliere di abortire è generalmente fissato entro la dodicesima settimana di gestazione (salvo diverse complicazioni).

Passiamo quindi ad esaminare i metodi più utilizzati per praticare l’aborto. Il modo più semplice e diffuso è lo svuotamento strumentale. Significa basilarmente inserire delle cannule che aspirano il feto. A seconda del periodo di gestazione può essere necessaria una dilatazione della cervice per far passare cannule più grosse. L’embrione (o il feto) vengono praticamente risucchiati via dall’utero, aspirati attraverso un tubo o fatti a pezzi con delle pinze ed estratti a poco a poco (raschiamento). Se si tratta di gravidanze oltre la dodicesima settimana, bisogna ricorrere a ferri che dilatino gradatamente la cervice, ed è necessario aspirare anche placenta, liquido amniotico e residui fetali. Quando parliamo di residui fetali, parliamo essenzialmente di questo:

Un altro metodo è l’aborto indotto per via farmacologica. L’induzione farmacologica dell’aborto è l’ultimo metodo di interruzione di gravidanza introdotto nella medicina tradizionale. Con questo metodo il distacco del feto dall’utero è chimico e non è necessario nessun intervento di natura chirurgica sul corpo della donna. Dal 2009 è approvato anche in Italia, ma bisogna sottolineare che questo metodo non ha nulla a che vedere con la cosiddetta “pillola del giorno dopo”: si tratta di una applicazione farmacologica che necessita l’obbligo di ricovero per tutta la durata dell’assunzione del farmaco.

Altra soluzione è il parto prematuro, che di norma viene adottato soltanto quando la donna è in grave pericolo: si tratta di indurre il parto per via farmacologica, tramite assunzione di prostaglandine. Il feto viene così espulso, ma essendo prematuro, è destinato a morte immediata.

Un metodo efficace negli aborti dalla sedicesima settimana alla nascita, vietato dalla legge italiana, è quello della nascita parziale. Esso consiste nell’estrazione parziale del feto dall’utero attraverso l’uso di una pinza, che permette l’avvicinamento del cranio alla cervice e lo svuotamento del medesimo attraverso l’introduzione in esso di una canula aspiratrice. Praticamente, si risucchia il cervello e la testa del feto attraverso un tubo aspiratore. Lo svuotamento del cranio si rende necessario per permetterne il passaggio agevole attraverso la cervice. A partire dal 2003 questa tecnica è vietata anche negli Stati Uniti, escludendo i casi in cui la salute della madre possa risultare compromessa.

Nei ceti meno abbienti, con maggiore incidenza in Europa tra le immigrate extracomunitarie, si sono ultimamente diffuse tecniche improprie di aborto attraverso l’abuso di farmaci antiulcera (Misoprostolo) che si è mostrato particolarmente efficace, ovviamente con numerose complicanze ed effetti collaterali, nel provocare farmacologicamente contrazioni uterine. Nel 2005 l’ISTAT ha quantificato in circa 20.000 casi annui gli aborti clandestini in Italia riconducibili a questa metodologia. Dal 2006 il misoprostolo è accessibile solo dietro presentazione di ricetta medica non ripetibile.


Le conseguenze fisiche e psicologiche dell’aborto sono innumerevoli, e talvolta davvero pesanti. L’aborto è una tecnica (che sia farmacologica o chirurgica) essenzialmente invasiva, che provoca la morte di una parte dell’organismo. Anche senza contare i dilemmi etici, psicologici e morali correlati, un’esperienza simile è assolutamente traumatica per la donna che vi si sottopone. Tradotto, questo vuol dire: dolore, soprattutto psicologico. Oggi sembra che l’attitudine maschile sia cambiata, e che l’aborto sia una realtà condivisa all’interno di giovani coppie, piuttosto che essere considerata esclusivamente un “problema femminile”. Rimangono intatti tutti gli spinosi dilemmi che molto hanno fatto parlare. A che stadio possiamo dire con certezza che un feto diviene un essere umano? Quando comincia a provare dolore? Come possiamo essere sicuri che questo non sia un vero e proprio omicidio? Si può discriminare una donna che pratica l’aborto senza alzare un dito per garantirle un futuro? Di fronte a stupri o violenze sessuali che culminano in una gravidanza, come ci si dovrebbe comportare? E se crediamo che di assassinio si tratti, può la nostra opinione personale spingersi fino a negare il diritto di una donna di terminare una gravidanza indesiderata?