Argentine Soccer’s Curse of the Colorado

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It’s been over two years since I last spilled ink on South American soccer. Thanks to the excellent Futbol y Asociados, I brought you the story of the altered cedula (national id card). Basically, a young Argentine got a national ID card and wore his team’s jersey in the picture. He received his cedula a week later, but one of the officials apparently was a fan of a rival team and had handwritten in a margin the score of a recent victory. The result? The kid’s high school would not admit him because his identity document was altered. D’oh!

Today, we again go way South of the border and learn a bit of Spanish. In Argentina, the term for a ginger or redhead is colorado/a. The term can mean either colored or red, depending on context. Some also say pelirojo. Regardless of the term, red head means bad news in Argentina. During a  recent game, San Lorenzo coach Caruso Lombardi was accused of sending a redhead alcanzapelotas (ball boy) to greet the rival team’s goalie and jinx him. San Lorenzo won, but their coach denied intending to curse anyone.
Regardless, gingers around the world respectfully ask: who and why did being colorado come to mean bad luck in Argentina? Here’s a few ideas.
Demian Orosz of LaVoz, an Argentina daily, articulated a Biblical theory. Basically, Judas Asceriot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ for money, was allegedly a ginger. Therefore, the world fears gingers. However, his own article addresses the superstitions surrounding both gingers and left-footers. However, he presented no evidence that Judas favored his left-foot. For all we know, Judas had a classic Krkic non-existent weaker foot. Thus, the Biblical explanation has its limits. It’s merely a correlation, not necessarily causation.
A secular explanation is sailor folklore. Buenos Aires has a magnificent port and the Argentine economy largely depends on agriculture exports. Thus, sailors have long populated the country. For many sailors, it’s bad luck to have a ginger on board a ship. It’s also bad luck to have on board flowers, a Priest, women, barbers, and children. Why? Well, if you are getting a haircut while smelling flowers, you may be too distracted to help your wife take care of the children. Then, she will get mad at you. And you risk getting tossed overboard. In fact, the Titanic flagrantly disregarded these taboos and was chocked full of barbers, Priests, flowers, women, and children. You could hardly go to buy a dozen roses for your wife without bumping elbows with a padre. We all know how that ended up. Thus, this explanation harbors some hope.
Another religious explanation is Jewish mysticism. During the Middle Ages, many scholars accepted an alternative creationist story in which Adam fell in love with a red head named Lillith before meeting Eve, but Lillith refused to be subservient to Adam. Instead, she left the Garden of Eden and hooked up with a pretty bad ass Archangel. Said Archangel may or may not have worn a leather jacket, but definitely would have owned the B.C. equivalent of a wicked Harley Davidson. Argentina has a vibrant and proud Jewish population, and perhaps this aversion to red heads has seeped into the mainstream. We see a redhead and think nothing of it, but they see a firecracker Lillith that can’t be tamed.
Lastly, perhaps there’s a sociological explanation. Maybe redheads bring to mind a shameful part of Argentina’s past: Nazis. Argentina welcomed refugees for victims of persecution during World War II, but also turned into a haven for war criminals. Lots of Aryans are red heads. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, but when I lived with a host family several years ago, they weren’t too keen to show off the family photo albums with the blonde haired and blue eyed relatives from the forties. Many Nazis fled to Argentina and then camouflaged themselves as Jewish refugees. Does the sight of a redheaded ball boy bring up uncomfortable associations? Perchance. This is probably the flimsiest of the explanations.
Regardless, I’m curious how this ginger ordeal plays out. Will the NAAG (National Association for the Advancement of Gingers) need to step in? I’m not sure. I think this may actually help gingers. Why? Well, on the one hand, when you hire ginger ball boy, you risk damning your own team. On the other hand, if you can sick that redhead on the other team and totally mess up their karma, why not give it a shot? Will gingers be the new rage? Will the Irish youth migrate in mass to toss balls of plastic at underpaid & mulleted South Americans? Only time will tell. But we can always hope.  
H/T to Danny of Argentina Football World.
IMAGE: Yahoo Deportes
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