Talking Soccer: Why we love the game

FC Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Girona at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona squashed Girona with 6-1 victory, extending their unbeaten record to 32 games and breaking the club’s record from the 2010-2011 season that stood at 31 games. 

Lionel Messi broke a record for scoring against the most teams in La Liga, surpassing Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz. The Argentinian superstar has now scored against 36 different La Liga teams, but that’s not the only record he broke that night. Messi also broke a record for most La Liga assists, with 148.

This, however, wasn’t the highlight of the game. 

César Daza and José Richard traveled from Colombia and went viral on twitter for their unique way of experiencing Barcelona play.

Richard is deaf-blind, and his friend Daza helps him experience the game using a wooden board that serves as the pitch and sign language so Richard can follow the free kicks, corner kicks, ball movement and more.

Sports fans always talk about how sports unite people and make them feel proud, euphoric or even astonished, all during one match. This is why we love the game.

To see a man who can’t watch or hear the game how most people are able to but still feel the emotions from the game is the best example of why I love the game.

Richard was born in Colombia and lost his hearing at age nine and his sight at 15, according to the Spanish newspaper Marca.

Richard told Marca he tried to kill himself after that.

“God gave me the strength to fight and overcome adversity,” Richard told Marca.

Richard met Daza in a meeting for deaf-blind people and started working in the project to help him and other people with similar disabilities experience soccer.

Richard came up with the idea, and, between the two of them, they devised the signs for shots, yellow cards, goals and more. Their hope is to export the board to countries around the world so anyone can experience soccer regardless of their ability to hear or watch the game.

Daza also wants to spread a message of peace for soccer fans around the globe.

There have been plenty incidents where soccer fans have been at the center of controversy for their violent behavior.

Last week, a game between Athletic Bilbao and Russian club Spartak Moscow ended with a police officer dying as fans violently clashed.

According to police, several people brought batons and knives, and the scenes after the game were horrific. It looked like a war zone, not a soccer stadium. Russian ultras have been a concern for Russia and FIFA as they prepare for this summer’s World Cup.

Still, Daza and Richard go to soccer games in Colombia. They support rival teams. While Richard supports Millanorios and Daza supports Santa Fe, the pair have found a way to remind people that you can enjoy soccer peacefully.

This story is why people love soccer.

I’ve written so many negative things about soccer: FIFA, racism and sexism, which all still plague the sport; but, stories like this remind me why I love it and why I’m hopeful for change.

Soccer should be inclusive and this project will help many more enjoy the passion for the game.

We need more Richards and Dazas in our game.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.