Malvinas/Olympic ad Argentine hockey player left out of Games warm-up in Malaysia
The Argentine hockey player filmed training on the Falkland Islands in a controversial video that caused a furor in Britain last week has been dropped from Argentina’s final Olympic Games warm-up event.
Fernando Zylberberg, a 34-year-old midfielder who has captained Argentina, was not included in the 18-man squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia posted on the Argentine Hockey Confederation website www.cahockey.org.ar
The other teams participating in the six-nation tournament from May 24 to June 4 are the hosts, India, Pakistan, South Korea, New Zealand and Britain.
A veteran of the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, Zylberberg was in the Argentina side that qualified for London as Pan-American champions last year and his absence in Malaysia does not mean he is definitely discarded for the July 27-August12 Games.
The Argentine state-supported television advertisement aired in the run-up to the London Games and featuring Zylberberg was branded by Britain as “tasteless and insulting”. The Falkland Islands elected government described the spot as a piece “of cheap and disrespectful propaganda”.
It shows Zylberberg running past symbolic landmarks on the Falklands, the South Atlantic Islands over which Argentina claims sovereignty and invaded them in 1982, until expelled by a British task force 74 days later. Among the landmarks Zylberberg is filmed exercising on the steps of a war memorial to British soldiers from the Battle of the Falklands.
It ends with the strap line: “To compete on English soil, we are training on Argentine soil.” Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands it calls Malvinas.
The Argentine Olympic Committee (COA) issued a statement on Tuesday distancing itself from the advertisement.
“…using the Olympic Games to make political gestures of any kind is not acceptable and we will conduct ourselves in the proper Olympic spirit in all that we do in London and elsewhere,” COA president Gerardo Werthein said.
On Sunday athletes’ representative in the COA, Juan Curuchet warned about the impact of the spot for the Argentine competitors.
“The spot couldn’t have been worst ill-timed: Zylberberg has been really affected by all that has happened and is being said about him. And I don’t even want to imagine what could happen and how our athletes could feel if they are booed during the opening ceremony (in London). How can they compete after that?” said Curuchet who was track cycling gold medal in Beijing and holds the Argentine record of competition in Olympic Games: six times.