Uruguay plays against South Korea ina few hours in the first eighth final. This could be a historic moment for the Celeste. The last time Uruguay made it through to the quarter finals was in 1970. As often at this stage of the competition, much will depend on the the mental strength of each individual player and the collective willpower of the team. This is the moment to display the famous Uruguayan garra charrúa. Astolfo Cagnacci defines in football terms garra charrúa as a “survival instinct running on the field, cementing a team in its collective definition.”
The Charrúas were a small Indian population of about 1000 living on the Uruguayan coast when the first conquistador Juan Diaz de Solis arrived in 1516. Solis was killed and this was the beginning of the legend of the Charrúas who were then gradually eliminated from the Uruguayan soil after Revolutionary leader Artigas left the country.
Garra is a combination of interior force and a ferocious willingness never to abandon. The combination of garra and charrua forever defines Uruguayan football. This small country of 3 million inhabitants, stuck between its 2 neighbouring giants Argentina and Brazil, has embraced football as the symbol of its own identity, a sport which can bring the best in the sacrifice of each player for the benefit of the team.
One of the most memorable definitions of garra was that of Jules Rimet, the President of the FIFA after the 1950 World Cup final in Brazil: “The fight was even. The Brazilian technique was drowned by the “garra” of the Uruguayans, who played well technically but who also showed the rage that makes their victory so well deserved. In football, playing well is not sufficient, you also need to feel it profoundly as does Uruguay.” And he went on to add: “It was one of the best games I ever saw during my long life as a sportsman, both in its technical virtousity and extraordinary fair-play.” Jules Rimet’s statement is important as too often non connaisseurs think of garra as just some form of violent behaviour which it is not!
I really like the following video showing a moment of garra charrúa just before Uruguay enters the pitch to play in the decisive qualifier against Costa Rica before this World Cup. Look at how captain Lugano shows (1’18) his team that football is “won in the head”.
Maracanazos have pride in the garra charrúa.